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The Ensemble Theatre and Artistic Director Eileen J. Morris welcome Pittsburgh theatre critic Christopher Rawson to Houston for two intimate discussions about his work chronicling Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson’ career, February 21 & 22, 2016, 3535 Main Street, Houston, TX 77002.
“We are excited to provide an opportunity for admirers of August Wilson’s work to speak with someone whose closely followed his career, and had an intimate connection to him as a friend,” says Morris. “Chris and I became good friends while I was working in Pittsburgh, and I know he has a lot of great historical information to offer scholars, journalists, artists, and patrons who want to understand more about Wilson’s plays and his life as a writer.”
Christopher Rawson is part-time senior theater critic for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where, as full-time theater editor and critic from 1983 to 2009, he chronicled August Wilson’s career in detail, starting with his Broadway debut and compiling more reviews, interviews and news stories than any other journalist. In the process, he and August became friends. He was the first to suggest Hill District locations for the ten Pittsburgh Cycle plays, and with historian Laurence Glasco, he co-wrote August Wilson: Pittsburgh Places in His Life and Plays (Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, 2011; 2nd ed. 2015). Along with providing program essays and discussions for August Wilson productions from Lincoln Center to California, Rawson has appeared in several video and radio documentaries, most recently “August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand” (PBS/WQED, American Masters, 2015) and “August Shines” (BBC Radio, 2014). He is on the board of the August Wilson House/Daisy Wilson Artist Community, working to save Wilson’s childhood home as an arts center for the Hill District.
He is twice past-chair of the American Theatre Critics Association, supervises the annual balloting for the Theater Hall of Fame and, as part of the Pittsburgh CLO Gene Kelly Awards, started a program for young critics, which now bears his name. He has a Harvard B.A. and a University of Washington Ph.D. and since 1968 has been a member of the University of Pittsburgh English Dept., where he has regularly taught courses in Shakespeare, criticism and, for the past ten years, August Wilson.
Sunday, February 21, 2016, immediately following the current main stage 3:00pm performance of Fences
Monday, February 22, 2016, immediately following the 6:00pm staged reading of Seven Guitars
The Ensemble Theatre
3535 Main St.
Houston, TX 77002
The discussions are open and free to the public.
Tickets to the performance of Fences or the staged reading of Seven Guitars may be purchased by calling the box office or visiting the theatre’s website:
August Wilson was born April 27, 1945 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He became an award winning playwright known for chronicling African American life through his cycle of 10-plays known as the Pittsburgh cycle. Although the plays are not written as a series, some of the characters interconnect between plays to give a since that a communal story is being told from varying perspectives.
“This year August Wilson would have been 70 years old, and this is the 10th year of his transition,” says Morris. “I knew Mr. Wilson personally and he was an amazing man whose work has had a profound impact on me professionally and on theatre communities worldwide.”
The Ensemble Theatre’s celebration of Wilson’s work brings together a variety of artists and directors participating in staged readings of all 10 plays in the order they were written.
The Staged Readings are held at The Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main St. Houston, TX 77002:
Staged Readings of August Wilson’s American Century Cycle
Gem of the Ocean
October 19, 2015, 6:00pm
Directed by Eileen J. Morris
Fences (Pulitzer and Tony Award)
March 28, 2016, 6:00pm
Directed by Rachel Hemphill Dickson
An in depth discussion
Joe Turner’s Come and Gone
November 16, 2015, 6:00pm
Directed by Kendrick “KB” Brown
Two Trains Running
April 27, 2016, 6:00pm
Directed by Kelvin Hamilton
(Happy Birthday August Wilson!)
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
December 21, 2015, 6:00pm
Directed by Allie Woods, Jr.
May 23, 2016, 6:00pm
Directed by Mirron Willis
Piano Lesson (Pulitzer Award)
January 25, 2016, 6:00pm
Directed by Alex Morris
King Hedley II
June 27, 2016, 6:00pm
Directed by Wayne DeHart
February 22, 2016, 6:00pm
Directed by Shirley Whitmore
July 18, 2016, 6:00pm
Directed by Ed Muth
The Ensemble Theatre’s August Wilson 10-play cycle staged readings is funded by a grant from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance.
The Ensemble Theatre was founded in 1976 by the late George Hawkins to preserve African American artistic expression and to enlighten, entertain, and enrich a diverse community. The theatre is known as the only professional theatre in its region dedicated to the production of works portraying the African American experience. In addition to being the oldest and largest professional African-American theatre in the Southwest, it also holds the distinction of being one of the nation’s largest African American theatres that owns and operates its facility with an in-house production team. The late Board President Emeritus Audrey Lawson led the capital campaign for The Ensemble’s $4.5 million building renovations that concluded in 1997.
The Ensemble Theatre produces a main stage season of six contemporary and classic works devoted to the portrayal of the African American experience by local and national playwrights and artists. The theatre’s Performing Arts Education program provides educational workshops, Artist-in-Residence experiences and live performances for students both off-site and at the theatre. Through its varied programs, The Ensemble Theatre benefits an audience and artistic constituency of approximately 65,000 people annually.