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Stage & Theater
The Piano Lesson at American Stage
Article published on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013
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Art by ROMAN BLACK
American Stage Theatre Company presents August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson. Previews are Jan. 16 and 17. Opening Night is Jan. 18 and the production runs through March 3.
ST. PETERSBURG - American Stage Theatre Company announces the sixth installment in its August Wilson Century Cycle and the first play in the 2012-2013 Spring Mainstage Series: August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson. Previews are Jan. 16 and 17. Opening Night is Jan. 18 and the production runs through March 3.

Show times are Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. with some exceptions. Visit www.americanstage.org for complete schedule.

August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, set circa 1936 in Pittsburgh, was written in 1990. Named “Best Play of the Year” by the New York Drama Critics' Circle, The Piano Lesson earned Wilson his second Pulitzer Prize for Drama, as well as a Drama Desk Award.

The Piano Lesson focuses on the disagreement between brother and sister over their family heirloom, an intricately carved piano, with detailed carvings of their ancestors during their days of enslavement.

Mark Clayton Southers is directing American Stage Theatre’s production of The Piano Lesson, which will be performed in two acts with one intermission. Southers is the artistic director of Theatre Initiatives for the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh, Pa.

The cast includes Tanesha Gary (Berniece), Bryant Bentley (Boy Willie), playing sister and brother. Both Gary and Bentley are making their American Stage debuts. Bentley played the role of Boy Willie previously at the CATCO Theater in Columbus, Ohio for which he won a nomination for “Best Actor.”

Alan Bomar Jones (Doaker Charles) is a resident artist with American Stage Theatre Company. This will be Jones’ fifth August Wilson cycle play performed with American Stage Theatre Company. ranney (Avery Brown) is honored and thrilled to join American Stage in it's production of The Piano Lesson. This is ranney’s sixth August Wilson production. The previous five included the role of Boy Willie in the Center Theatre Company’s Production of The Piano Lesson in Tampa (Critic’s Choice for “Best Actor,” Creative Loafing). He was seen most recently in the Jobsite Theater production of David Mamet's Race.

Kim Sullivan (Wining Boy) returns to American Stage to appear in his fifth production in August Wilson’s Century Cycle. Previous credits include Bono in Fences, Stool Pidgeon in King Hedley II, Solly Two Kings in Gem of the Ocean, and Toldeo in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Canewell in Seven Guitars (all at American Stage).

Chicago born Sati Word (Lymon) is also making his American Stage Theatre and August Wilson production debut. Brandy Grant (Grace) returns to American Stage after playing Ruby in Seven Guitars. The character of Berneice’s daughter, (Maretha), is played by two young actresses: ten-year-old Shakenya Clark and Chloe Jackson.

In addition to Director Mark Clayton Southers, the artistic staff includes award-winning scenic designer Frank Chavez, with his third scenic design for the August Wilson series here at American Stage. Chavez previously designed sets for Seven Guitars and King Hedley II.

Saidah Ben Judah returns as costume designer for The Piano Lesson, after designing the costumes for Seven Guitars last season at American Stage. Mike Wood, theatre design and technology instructor at Howard W. Blake School of the Arts in Tampa, is lighting designer and Lynne Locher is sound designer. Scenic dresser and properties master is Jerid Fox and technical director is Timon Brown.

About August Wilson

August Wilson was born on April 27, 1945 and grew up in the Hill district of Pittsburgh, Pa. His childhood experiences in this poor black community would later inform his dramatic writings. Then, in 1984, August Wilson was catapulted to the forefront of the American theatre scene with the success of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, produced at Yale and later in New York in 1984. Wilson continued to work in close collaboration with Lloyd Richards of the Yale School of Drama, and by early 1990s, had established himself as the best-known and most popular African-American playwright.

Wilson also set for himself a daunting task - to write a ten-play cycle that chronicles each decade of the black experience in the 20th century. Each of Wilson's plays is a chapter in this remarkable cycle of plays and focuses on what Wilson perceives as the largest issue to confront African-Americans in that decade.

In April of 2005, Radio Golf premiered at the Yale Repertory Theatre. Two months later, August Wilson was diagnosed with liver cancer. On Oct. 2, 2005, August Wilson passed away at the age of 60.

For ticket prices and complete show schedule, call the American Stage Box Office at 727-823-PLAY (7529) or visit www.americanstage.org.

American Stage Theatre Company is located at the Raymond James Theatre, 163 Third St. N. in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg.
Article published on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013
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