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For 1st Time Ever, August Wilson Estate Grants Rights to Record American Century Cycle Plays

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act November 14, 2012 at 1:38PM

This is good; any attempts to introduce August Wilson's to audiences is great; it all helps keep his work and memory alive; and all under Ruben Santiago-Hudson's watch in this case. He's serving as Artistic Director of the venture.
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August Wilson

This is good; any attempts to introduce August Wilson's work to audiences is great; it all helps keep his work and memory alive; and all under Ruben Santiago-Hudson's watch in this case. He's serving as Artistic Director of the venture.

All the details follow in the press release below:

The August Wilson Estate Grants Rights to Record All 10-Plays of The American Century Cycle for the First Time Ever to The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC and WQXR

The Greene Space to Present all Ten Plays in The American Century Cycle as Dramatic Readings in 2013

Tony Award-winning actor and longtime Wilson collaborator Ruben Santiago-Hudson to Serve as Artistic Director

(New York, NY – October 26, 2012) The August Wilson Estate today announced that for the first time ever, it is granting an organization the rights to record Wilson’s American Century Cycle.

The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, the events space of New York Public Radio, which also operates WNYC and WQXR, will present live dramatic readings of each play in front a live studio audience and record them for the NYPR archives. The recording sessions will also be available as live video web casts on NYPR websites and those of select organizations with a close affinity with August Wilson’s work. The audio recordings will be preserved in NYPR’s archives for future research and educational purposes.

Indira Etwaroo, Executive Producer of The Greene Space, will serve as Executive Producer of the project. Tony Award-winning actor and director Ruben Santiago-Hudson, who collaborated with The Greene Space this year on the American radio drama adaptation premiere of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, has been tapped as the Artistic Director.

The project will take place in 2013. Directors, cast, and dates will be announced at a later time.

Wilson’s American Century Cycle consists of 10 plays portraying the 20th century African American experience, from the early 1900’s, when wounds from slavery and the Civil War were still fresh, to the 1990’s, when even a large and increasingly influential black middle class could not escape persistent racial tensions.

The plays are as follows:

1900s Gem of the Ocean - 1839 Wylie Avenue, 1904

1910s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone - a boardinghouse, 1911

1920s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – a band room and studio in Chicago, Illinois, 1927

1930s The Piano Lesson – a home with an heirloom upright piano, 1936

1940s Seven Guitars – the backyard of a brick home with a cellar and window fronting the yard, 1948

1950s Fences – an urban neighborhood in an industrial city, 1957

1960s Two Trains Running – a restaurant across from a funeral home and a meat market, 1969

1970s Jitney – a neighborhood gypsy taxicab station, 1977

1980s King Hedley II – the backyard of two tenement homes, 1985

1990s Radio Golf – a real estate office, 1997

"The August Wilson Estate is thrilled to partner with The Greene Space on this historical undertaking,” said CONSTANZA ROMERO, Wilson’s widow and the executor of the August Wilson Estate. “Back in 1985, the cast recording of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom received a Grammy Award. This was a meaningful moment for August, and I know he would be deeply moved that now his entire cycle is being recorded. When Indira approached me with this idea, it was truly a meeting of the minds. This is something I have been hoping for—a chance to transfer a theatrical experience which is usually ephemeral, to a medium that will preserve it for history. And this will happen with August's American Century Cycle in the hands of many talented theatre artists who knew and worked with him. I think we all see this as a unique opportunity to keep his legacy alive-and-well for generations to come.”

“August Wilson created an unparalleled and indelible canon of work that speaks to the beauty and struggle of the African American journey and the universal relevance of these stories,” said ETWAROO. “I couldn’t be more honored for The Greene Space to be the first organization entrusted with the rights to record Wilson's American Century Cycle, which masterfully and seamlessly translate to audio works. Constanza Romero’s unwavering commitment to the legacy of her late-husband has created a pathway for projects, such as this. And Ruben’s own career-long relationship with Wilson and his work, as well as our partnership on the Zora Neale Huston project, made him the natural choice to serve as Artistic Director on this historic endeavor.”

“’You need to be directing these plays,’ is what August told me, watching me watch the creative process unfold from the wings,” said SANTIAGO-HUDSON. “The opportunity to convene several generations of what many call 'Wilsonian Soldiers,' but I simply call some of the finest actors in The Theater today, to create a blueprint, a guide for those who come after us to follow is significant. I am humbled with the opportunity to serve on this project, particularly excited that the technology of the 21st Century will help capture August’s American Century Cycle set in the 20th Century for generations


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