You may recall that, a few years ago, The Greene Space in NYC coordinated an historical event. They brought in actors and directors to produce audio recordings of August Wilson’s plays, thereby committing the entire Century Cycle to permanent record.
At the time, I contacted The Greene Space and spoke with them about hosting the recordings, when they became available. They told me to sit tight.
Well, after two years of production, I’m pleased to announce that August Wilson’s American Century Cycle, performed and recorded in the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, is becoming available on a limited-time basis.
The recordings will only be available now through August 26, 2015 and they will be released on a rolling schedule. “Gem of the Ocean” and “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” are available now. The rest of the series will be released Sundays on a weekly basis.
August Wilson would have been 70 years old today, and despite the fact that we miss him terribly and wonder what he might have produced if he would have lived these past ten years (there was talk of turning toward comedy, of which Mr. Wilson had a wicked sense of humor that comes through, from time to time, in his various plays).
To celebrate his 70th birthday, I’ve decided to review a number of recent developments that have commemorated the life and work of Mr. Wilson.
According to Natasha Lindstrom of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will “begin taking rental bookings for events in mid-May and beyond” at the August Wilson Center.
The Center is now owned by the Pittsburgh Foundation, which is in the process of appointing a permanent governance board to oversee the center.
Heinz Endowment President Grant Oliphant and Richard King Mellon Foundation Director Scott Izzo are also involved.
This is a great development. August Wilson’s legacy is too important to Pittsburgh to abandon it too readily. Were mistakes made the first time around? Absolutely. Can those problems be fixed? I remain hopeful.
The biggest issue is revenue stream. The center needs to see itself as a business, not as a community center. I believe that if the initial organizers had a fault, it was that they were too generous with the facility.
In addition, from day one the center was plagued with debt. Now it has a chance to start debt-free.
I do believe it is unfortunate that Mr. King has said that he “does not anticipate appointing any members who were on the center’s previous leadership teams.” With all due respect, I believe that having access to someone with deep background knowledge of the center, such as Sala Udin, would help to bring a cohesive vision to the center and would help prevent the new leadership from falling into previous traps.
The Chicago Reader has posted an interview with Willa Taylor, the Goodman Theater’s director of education and community engagement. Of Wilson’s plays, she said that Two Trains is her favorite, “because of the time period.”
She said the Goodman Theater is trying to make sure August Wilson’s work “gets taught in schools the way kids study Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neill, and Shakespeare.”
Two Trains Running at the Goodman Theatre runs through 4/19: Wed-Thu 7:30 PM, Fri-Sat 8 PM, Sun 2 and 7:30 PM $25-$79.