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ASU presents ‘August in April’

October 20, 2006

Arizona State University’s department of Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance in partnership with iTheatre Collaborative present August in April an anthology drama, consisting of scenes and excerpts from each of August Wilson’s 10 play cycle – the “Pittsburgh Cycle” – performed onstage with an ensemble of 11 actors. August in April gives the audience a better understanding and deeper insight into the late August Wilson and his work. Wilson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning African-American playwright, died of liver cancer in 2005.

The 10-play cycle chronicles 20th Century African-American experience, decade by decade, and includes such plays as Fences, Piano Lesson, Jitney and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Performances start at 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct 26 through Saturday, Oct. 28, the Herberger Theater Center, in the Performance OutReach Theater, 222 E. Monroe, Phoenix. Tickets are $10 each.

“August in April” is an exceptional opportunity to examine the entire cycle of Wilson’s plays as a whole, as a chronological history,” said Charles St. Clair, professor, department of Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Science at ASU’s West campus. “Audiences can really begin to understand how Wilson’s work encapsulates the generational legacy of slavery and the inherent racism and poverty in America after emancipation.”

Interspersed between the scenes are video interviews and commentaries from noted African-American actors, directors, scholars and writers, each discussing their thoughts and memories of August Wilson and the impact of his work. The impressive list of those participating in this project includes; Suzan-Lori Parks, Charles S. Dutton, Phylicia Rashad, Lloyd Richards, Amiri Baraka, Stephen Henderson, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Kenny Leon and many others.

August in April was created by St. Clair, a longtime iTheatre collaborator, and Dale Byam of the Brooklyn College Theater Initiative. The production is directed by St. Clair, who also interviewed the celebrities and scholars for the production. The cast is a veritable list of who’s who of Arizona African-American actors, including: Lillie Richardson, Ken Love, Bruce Nelson, Joyce Gittoes, Mike Traylor, Chelé Watkins, Kevin Scott, Lorin Akers, Carolyn Parsons, Tenisha Bonds and Steven J. Scally.

Additional support for this project provided by the City of Phoenix Office of Art & Culture, The Black Legacy Fund, Arizona Commission on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts and Arizona Public Service.

August in April is part of the 2006-2007 arts and performance season, produced by the department of Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance. The season includes visual arts exhibits and installations, theatrical and musical performances typically highlighting the research and creative work of faculty and students in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.