Baltimore Theatre Companies to Present Citywide August Wilson Century Cycle Celebration | Playbill

Regional News Baltimore Theatre Companies to Present Citywide August Wilson Century Cycle Celebration

Ten companies will participate in the three-year project, presenting all of the late playwright's Century Cycle.

August Wilson David Cooper

Ten Baltimore theatre companies will collaborate on an unprecedented joint celebration of August Wilson's Century Cycle over the next three years.

Presenting the late playwright's 10 iconic plays in chronological order, a different Baltimore company will present one play each from the Century Cycle throughout the 2024 to 2027 seasons.

While Wilson did not write his renowned American Century Cycle in chronological order, the Baltimore August Wilson Celebration initiative will present them as such. The initiative will begin in April when Arena Players will present Gem of the Ocean, Wilson's 1904-set drama about a 285-year-old matriarch who invites two men into her home: a Civil War soldier born into slavery and another young man in search of new life and redemption. 

Running April 5–28, it is especially fitting that Arena Players will be the company to kick off the Baltimore August Wilson Celebration: The company is the oldest continuously operating African-American community theatre in the U.S.

Additional partnering companies include Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Baltimore Center Stage, ArtsCentric, Fell’s Point Corner Theatre, and others to be announced. While Chesapeake Shakespeare Company is spearheading Baltimore August Wilson Celebration, the project is a joint production of the entire Baltimore theatre community. 

Lesley Malin, who conceived the Baltimore August Wilson Celebration, states that while Wilson originally set his plays in his native Pittsburgh, “Baltimore is a good fit, too, given the common threads between the two cities—working class, port cities with inferiority complexes and a powerful, vivid Black culture.”

The initiative is supported by Constanza Romero, the Tony-nominated costume designer and widow of Wilson. “I would like to express how pleased and thrilled I am about Baltimore’s August Wilson’s American Century Cycle Celebration!" Romero said in a statement. "I humbly consider my beloved late husband one of the most important American playwrights of the 20th century. In recognition of August’s contribution, it is fitting to have various talents across all disciplines come together to put their experience and craft forward for this city-wide collaboration. I will be in full support of this endeavor and most grateful to all its participants.”

The plays, which depict Black life in America throughout the 20th century, will be presented in the following order: Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II, and ending with Radio Golf. A celebratory launch event will be held April 21 with details to follow.


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