Hill District’s Cliffside Park Restored and Renamed “August Wilson Park”

28 Jul

AWP-park-gallery-3By Mike Downing

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has announced that the former Cliffside Park in Pittsburgh’s Hill District has been restored and renamed “August Wilson Park.”

The accessible park features quotes from some of Wilson’s plays and will officially open with a community celebration on Aug. 6.


Wilson’s “Seven Guitars” to be Staged at his Childhood Home in August 2016

27 Jul

By Mike Downing

photo posted on post-gazette.comAs part of the “August in August” series, the Pittsburgh Playwright’s Theater Company will present “Seven Guitars” every weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) in August 2016 (5-7, 12-14, 19-21 and 26-28) beginning at 8 p.m.

Performances will be held at 1727 Bedford Avenue, in the backyard of the childhood home of August Wilson.

Tickets are $35. Seniors 65+ and Hill District residents pay $25 for the first two weekends only. Students with ID pay $25 at the door, first three weekends only.

Opening night fundraiser on August 5th with food and drink is $100 for all tickets.

Tickets are available here.



August Wilson Society 10th Anniversary Conference Slated for October 2016

26 Jul

By Mike Downing

August_Wilson_in_hatThe August Wilson Society, coordinated by Professor Sandra Shannon at Howard University, has announced a national conference to “assess the life and legacy” of playwright August Wilson.

The event is slated for Oct. 6-8 at Howard University in Washington, DC.  Abstracts will be accepted until August 8, 2016.

For more information, contact Dr. Shannon at sshannon@howard.edu or 202-806-5443.

Theater News: Jerald Gary, 30, Buys Historic Regal Theater in Chicago to Restore and Use with Art Non-Profits

20 Jul

From my friends at Good Black News…


IMG_7736 Jerald Gary (Photo credit: Melanie L. Brown for Steed Media Service)

article by Melanie L. Brown via rollingout.com

Rolling out interviewed Jerald Gary, the new owner of the New Regal Theater in Chicago. The 30-year-old talked about his memories of the Regal and how he came to acquire this historic building on the South Side.

Who is Jerald Gary?

I am a private equity investor. I bought the Regal Theater in 2014 to provide access to the performing arts for the community. I created the Chicago Regal Foundation to use the theater as a cultural asset that the community can leverage through various arts nonprofits. My day to day is figuring out how to render capital of the community more active and productive.

What is some history that you’ve heard about the Regal?

When I was growing up, the Regal was really in its prime. It reopened in 1987…

View original post 667 more words

Update: June 17, 2016: Denzel Films Fences in Pittsburgh

17 Jun

By Mike Downing

It’s been a while since my last post.  My attention is getting pulled in too many directions because I have too many August Wilson projects.  It’s all good, but emerging responsibilities are preventing me from attending to the blog.

Specifically, I’m working on an essay and a book related to Wilson, along with revising the official proposal for the August Wilson Journal.  I’m also trying to think about classes for fall, which includes revising syllabi and revising a journalism handbook that I’ve written specifically for my journalism writing classes.

Actually, I’d like to take this opportunity to advertise the fact that if anyone out there might like to take over this blog, please contact me.  I would love it if someone could commit to one post per month.  I can help with details, but it’s going to get increasingly difficult for me to attend to this project, especially once the journal is established.

I’m at downing[at]kutztown.edu

The latest on Wilson:  I am totally excited about Denzel Washington’s filming of Fences in Pittsburgh.  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has published 11 photos of some of the people and props to be used in the film, particularly several of the vintage vehicles.

Click here for the link to the article.  I’ve posted three of the photos above.



August Wilson Biography Link on IMDb

31 Mar

By Maugust_wilson_10-1ike Downing

I recently found the August Wilson Biography page on IMDb.  It’s a decent write-up.

The link is here.

Pittsburgh’s August Wilson Center gets Second Chance

1 Mar

By Mike Downing

DSC05886The August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. is back on track. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (“RAD bets $333K taxpayer grant on August Wilson Center’s comeback”), the Allegheny Regional Asset District Board “awarded a $333,333 ‘connections’ grant to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust to spend on operating expenses for the center’s $40 million Downtown building.”

“It gives us the opportunity to accentuate the building’s relationship with the community, and encourage others to provide programming,” said Michael Polite, a board member at the August Wilson Center.

The building is now owned by The Pittsburgh Foundation, whose leaders include CEO Maxwell King Heinz Endowments CEO Grant Oliphant and Richard King Mellon Foundation Director Scott Izzo.

Due to construction overruns, the center started $12 million in debt. It also struggled to pay bills from the day it opened in 2009.

An editorial from the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, (“Troubled no more: RAD’s trust returns to the August Wilson Center”), evokes cautious optimism: “The journey from debt and insolvency to a state of sound financial footing and managerial competence has been a long and arduous one for the August Wilson Center. There were many who believed it was a lost cause a few years ago. Fortunately, the center found its footing and has been able to inspire the confidence of people and institutions such as RAD that it needs most to forge a successful future.”

In addition, the conservator assigned to oversee the recovery of the center is happy that the process is finally over.

“I’m done,” said conservator Judith Fitzgerald.

According to an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, (“Conservator for August Wilson Center happy case is over”), Judge Lawrence O’Toole of Allegheny County Common Pleas Orphans’ Court signed an order Jan. 20 discharging the conservator and terminating the case.

The journey has been filled with twists and turns. At one point, Ms. Fitzgerald had a “deal to sell the building to a New York developer that wanted to put a hotel on top of it only to abandon it in the face of opposition from local political leaders and others.”

Eventually, the property was sold at sheriff sale to Dollar Bank, which held the delinquent mortgage.

Dollar then sold the real estate to the Pittsburgh Foundation, the Heinz Endowments and the Richard King Mellon Foundation for $7.9 million.

Ms. Fitzgerald and her advisors were paid $590,000 for their work. She indicated that this number was approximately half of what she was owed. Other creditors owed money by the center ended up with nothing.

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