Eight of Ten: Jitney, a Director’s Note

By Mike Downing

From my friend, Ayodele Nzinga, MFA, PhD

A.Nzinga's Blog

Wilson by Gayle

I am mid way through the production of Jitney. Only 3 shows left. It’s the second show of the cycle we have done at the Flight Deck in newly dubbed “Uptown”, (used to be plain old downtown), Oakland.  This is our third production since leaving The Yard , (The Sister Thea) in the Bottoms. We started in the Bottoms and now we are Uptown — we are a success story. What a story it is — the making of art is often if not always as much a drama as the work itself. We are The Lower Bottom Playaz, we are Oakland’s premiere North American African theater company and we have earned every accolade we have ever received.

We are that company Javier Reyes from Colored Ink called the Mc Gyver  troupe for our inventiveness and applied ingenuity. How else would a troupe with the motto, We create what…

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James Gayles’ Portrait of August Wilson

Bwilson-by-gayley Mike Downing

My friend, Ayodele Nzinga, tells me that artist James Gayles of Oakland, Calif., has donated a portrait of “America’s Shakespeare,” August Wilson, to Oakland’s North American African Theater Troupe, The Lower Bottom Playaz

The gift is intended to help fund their production of the entirety of his American Century Cycle.

The portrait is for sale by auction with an opening bid of $1800.00. Please send all inquires to Ayodele at wordslanger@gmail.com

“The Best Blues Singer in the World”

By August Wilson

august_wilson_10-1“I once wrote a short story called ‘The Best Blues Singer in the World,’ and it went like this: ‘The streets that Balboa walked were his own private ocean, and Balboa was drowning.’ End of story. That says it all. Nothing else to say. I’ve been rewriting that same story over and over again. All my plays are rewriting that same story.”

~August Wilson
From Conversations with August Wilson (p. 211)
Edited by Jackson R. Bryer and Mary C. Hartig

Wilson’s “Four B’s”

From the New York Times:august-wilsonx
“In a 1999 interview in The Paris Review, Mr. Wilson cited his major influences as being the ‘four B’s’: the blues was the ‘primary’ influence, followed by Jorge Luis Borges, the playwright Amiri Baraka and the painter Romare Bearden. He analyzed the elements each contributed to his art: ‘From Borges, those wonderful gaucho stories from which I learned that you can be specific as to a time and place and culture and still have the work resonate with the universal themes of love, honor, duty, betrayal, etc. From Amiri Baraka, I learned that all art is political, although I don’t write political plays. From Romare Bearden I learned that the fullness and richness of everyday life can be rendered without compromise or sentimentality.’ He added two more B’s, both African-American writers, to the list: the playwright Ed Bullins and James Baldwin.”