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King Hedley II

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King Hedley II

King Hedley has returned, but to reign for how long? With an angry scar down the length of his face and seven years of prison haunting him, King has a chance to lock away his past and achieve an entrepreneurial dream. But Pittsburgh’s Hill District is an unforgiving place, and the return of Elmore, a scheming conman armed with a derringer and family secrets, could strike a fatal blow to King’s second coming. The ninth installment of August Wilson’s acclaimed play cycle examining Black America, King Hedley II is one of the most stirring and ferocious explorations of fate, honor and the daily struggles of American life.

August Wilson


“It was all right when they ain’t had to pay you. They had plenty of work for you back then. Now that they got to pay you there ain’t no work for you. I used to be worth twelve hundred dollars during slavery. Now I’m worth $3.35 an hour. I’m going backwards. Everybody else moving forward.”– King Hedley

Did You Know?

King Hedley II is generously sponsored by Margot Kelly.


E Faye ButlerE. FAYE BUTLER (Ruby)'s previous Arena Stage productions include Smokey Joe's Café, Pullman Porter Blues, Trouble in Mind, Oklahoma!, Crowns, Ain't Misbehavin', Polk County and Dinah Was. She performed with the Washington Ballet in The Great Gatsby and Blues Until June at the Kennedy Center. National and regional tours include Mamma Mia, Dinah Was, Ain't Misbehavin', Nunsense and Don't Bother Me.... E. Faye has appeared at regional theaters such as Signature Theatre, Centerstage, La Jolla Playhouse, Court Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Lincolnshire Theatre, Dallas Theatre Company, Northlight Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Yale Repertory and Pasadena Playhouse. She is the recipient of six Jeff Awards, three Black Theatre Alliance Awards, an After Dark Award, John Barrymore Award, R.A.M.I. Award, two Helen Hayes Awards and seven nominations, Excellence in the Arts Award, Ovation Award, 2011 Sarah Siddons Society Leading Lady Award, 2012 Lunt-Fontaine Fellow and 2014 Kathryn V. Lamkey Award.

Andre de ShieldsANDRÉ DE SHIELDS (Stool Pigeon) is making his Arena Stage debut. Other Washington appearances include Jacob Strand in Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts at Shakespeare Theatre Company, the title role in King Lear at Folger Theatre and the 10th anniversary revival of Ain't Misbehavin' at the National Theatre. In a career spanning 45 years, André has distinguished himself as an unparalleled actor, director and educator. A multiple Tony Award nominee, he is the recipient of the 2012 Fox Foundation Fellowship/Distinguished Achievement, the 2009 National Black Theatre Festival's Living Legend Award and the 2007 Village Voice OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance. He is best known for his show-stopping performances in six legendary Broadway productions: Impressionism (with Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen), Mark Medoff's Prymate, The Full Monty, Play On!, Ain't Misbehavin' (Emmy Award) and The Wiz. Television credits include Rescue Me; Law & Order; Law & Order: SVU; Sex and the City; Cosby; Life on Mars and Lipstick Jungle. Namaste!

Jessica Frances DukesJESSICA FRANCES DUKES (Tonya)'s D.C. credits include Bootycandy, In the Next Room, Full Circle, Eclipsed, Fever/Dream, Antebellum and Starving (Woolly Mammoth Theatre, company member); The Conference of The Birds (Folger Theatre); The Piano Lesson (Olney Theatre); Passing Strange and Caroline, or Change (Studio Theatre); Trip to Bountiful and Permanent Collection (Round House); Jitney (Fords Theatre); Spunk (Tribute Productions, Helen Hayes nomination); The Bluest Eye and Insurrection: Holding History (Theater Alliance) and more. Regional credits include Beneatha's Place and Clybourne Park (Centerstage); Stick Fly (Arden Theatre), A Raisin in the Sun and The Piano Lesson (Geva Theatre); The Piano Lesson (Indiana Rep); Trip to Bountiful (Cleveland Playhouse) and more. Off-Broadway credits include Bootycandy at Playwrights Horizons. TV credits include The Good Wife (CBS) and A Raisin in the Sun Revisited (PBS). MFA from The Catholic University of America.

KenYatta RogersKENYATTA ROGERS (Mister) returns to Arena Stage after performing in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Regional credits include Two Trains Running, Eurydice and A Lesson Before Dying (Round House Theatre); Holly Down in Heaven (Forum Theatre); Topdog/Underdog and A Raisin in the Sun (Everyman Theatre); Fever/Dream (Woolly Mammoth); Jitney (Ford's Theatre); Colossal (Olney Theatre Center); Comedy of Errors (Folger Theatre); The Piano Lesson (Trustus Theatre); Coriolanus (Shakespeare & Company) and As You Like It, Spunk and Joe Turner's Come and Gone (African Continuum Theatre). KenYatta received Helen Hayes nominations for performances in Insurrection: Holding History at Theatre Alliance and Glengarry Glen Ross at Round House Theatre (two nominations, one win). TV credits including the PBS series Standard Deviants' Television. KenYatta received his MFA in Acting from the University of Pittsburgh and is currently a faculty member in Montgomery College's Department of Speech, Dance, and Theatre. To Kasai, his heart, to Mecca, his soul, to Michelle, his all.

Michael Anthony WilliamsMICHAEL ANTHONY WILLIAMS (Elmore) is ecstatic to be making his Arena Stage debut. Other Washington appearances include RACE and Intelligent Homosexual's Guide at Theater J; Two Trains Running, Treasure Island and Jesus Hopped the A Train at Round House Theater; Master Harold and the Boys at Studio Theater; Starving and We Are Proud to Present at Woolly Mammoth Theater; Jitney and To Kill a Mockingbird at Ford's Theater and Two Trains Running and Nomathemba at The Kennedy Center. Off Broadway credits include Persephone at BAM. Regional credits include Nomathemba at Steppenwolf and Schubert Theaters, Of Mice and Men at Cincinnati Playhouse and To Kill a Mockingbird at Capital Rep. Michael Anthony is a proud former member of The Second City Theater Company in Chicago. Film credits include The Brave One, The Replacements, Contact and Unbreakable. TV credits include FBI Files, Homicide: Life on the Streets and The Wire. Michael dedicates his body of creative work to his daughter Margarita Williams.

Bowman WrightBOWMAN WRIGHT (King) is excited to return to Arena Stage, where he was last seen as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in The Mountaintop. Theater credits include Our Lady of Kibeho (Nkango) at Signature Theatre Company; TogDog/UnderDog (Lincoln) at Marin Theatre Company; A Raisin in the Sun (Walter Lee Younger) at Geva Theatre Center; A Midsummer Night's Dream at La Jolla Playhouse; The Dreamer Examines His Pillow (Tommy) at Shakespeare & Company; The Piano Lesson (Lymon) at Virginia Stage; Since Africa (Ater Dhal) and A House with No Walls (Jacob, Austin) at Interact Theatre; Fences (Cory) at Actors Theatre of Louisville and Death and the King's Horsemen at Lantern Theatre. Films credits include Sight (Lionsgate Productions) and Vinson (Sainvil Productions). TV credits include Person of Interest, Blue Bloods and Elementary. Bowman is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego.


AUGUST WILSON (Playwright) authored Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II, and Radio Golf. These works explore the heritage and experience of African-Americans, decade-by-decade, over the course of the twentieth century. His plays have been produced at regional theaters across the country and all over the world, as well as on Broadway. In 2003, August made his professional stage debut in his one-man show, How I Learned What I Learned. His works garnered many awards including Pulitzer Prizes for Fences (1987); and for The Piano Lesson (1990); a Tony Award for Fences; Great Britain's Olivier Award for Jitney; as well as eight New York Drama Critics Circle Awards for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Fences, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running, Seven Guitars, Jitney, and Radio Golf. Additionally, the cast recording of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom received a 1985 Grammy Award, and August received a 1995 Emmy Award nomination for his screenplay adaptation of The Piano Lesson. His early works included the one-act plays The Janitor, Recycle, The Coldest Day of the Year, Malcolm X, The Homecoming and the musical satire Black Bart and the Sacred Hills.

August received many fellowships and awards, including Rockefeller and Guggenheim Fellowships in Playwrighting, the Whiting Writers Award, 2003 Heinz Award, was awarded a 1999 National Humanities Medal by the President of the United States, and received numerous honorary degrees from colleges and universities, as well as the only high school diploma ever issued by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. He was an alumnus of New Dramatists, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a 1995 inductee into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and on October 16, 2005, Broadway renamed the theater located at 245 West 52nd Street – The August Wilson Theatre. Additionally, August was posthumously inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2007. He was born and raised in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and lived in Seattle, Washington at the time of his death. He is immediately survived by his two daughters, Sakina Ansari and Azula Carmen Wilson, and his wife, costume designer Constanza Romero.

TIMOTHY DOUGLAS (Director) makes his Arena Stage debut with this production of King Hedley II. Other Washington area credits include Two Trains Running, The Trip to Bountiful, Permanent Collection and A Lesson Before Dying at Round House; Insurrection: Holding History at Theatre Alliance (two Helen Hayes nominations); the world premiere of The Last Orbit of Billy Mars at Woolly Mammoth and his Caribbean-inspired Much Ado About Nothing at the Folger. Recent credits include the world premiere of Rajiv Joseph's The Lake Effect for Silk Road Rising (Chicago's Jeff Award for Best New Work), off-Broadway's Bronte: A Portrait of Charlotte and the world premiere of August Wilson's Radio Golf for Yale Repertory Theatre. He is currently an Associate Artist at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, where he has directed Clybourne Park, The North Pool and the world premiere of Safe House, and served as Associate Artistic Director at Actors Theatre of Louisville, where he directed ten productions including three Humana Festival premieres. Timothy has directed over 100 projects for ACT, Guthrie, Berkeley Rep, Center Theatre Group, South Coast Rep, Steppenwolf, Playmakers Rep, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Downstage (NZ), National Theatret (Norway), Milwaukee Rep and many others. He is also a Linklater voice instructor and has served on the faculties of ACT, USC, North Carolina School of the Arts, New Zealand Drama School and Emerson College and holds an MFA in acting from Yale.

TONY CISEK (Set Designer) has collaborated with Timothy Douglas on the premiere of Safe House and Clybourne Park at Cincinnati Playhouse, The Trip to Bountiful at Cleveland Play House, Two Trains Running, Permanent Collection and A Lesson Before Dying at Round House Theatre, Much Ado About Nothing at Folger Theatre, the premieres of Night is a Child at Milwaukee Rep and Line in the Sand at Virginia Stage Company, as well as productions at Portland Center Stage, Indiana Rep, South Coast Rep, Syracuse Stage, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Theatre Alliance and the Guthrie. For Arena Stage, Tony also designed The Miracle Worker, Oak & Ivy and Dimly Perceived Threats to the System. His work has been seen off-Broadway and regionally at Roundabout, Goodman, Ford's, Intiman, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Two River Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop and The Kennedy Center. He has received four Helen Hayes Awards in Washington, four Drammy Awards in Portland and a Barrymore Award nomination in Philadelphia.

ILONA SOMOGYI (Costume Designer) previously worked at Arena Stage on Smokey Joe's Café, every tongue confess, The Quality of Life, A Delicate Balance, Gem of the Ocean, The Rainmaker, Anna in the Tropics, A Man's a Man and Of Mice and Men. New York credits include the Broadway production of Clybourne Park. Also The World is Round; Dinner with Friends; Satchmo at the Waldorf; My Name is Asher Lev; A Small Fire; Jerry Springer: The Opera, at Carnegie Hall; Almost an Evening by Ethan Coen; and Home at the Signature. She's worked regionally at The Guthrie Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Mark Taper Forum, Chicago Shakespeare Festival, The Huntington, Berkeley Rep, South Coast Repertory, Long Wharf Theatre, Hartford Stage, Yale Repertory, Denver Center Theatre Company and Westport County Playhouse, among others. She also designed costumes for Disney on Ice: Princess Wishes. Ilona is on faculty at Yale School of Drama.

ALLEN LEE HUGHES (Lighting Designer) returns for his 69th design at Arena Stage. Arena audiences will remember his work on Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Washington audiences will also remember his lighting for the August Wilson Twentieth Century plays at the Kennedy Center. Broadway credits include Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Clybourne Park, Having Our Say, Mule Bone, Once on This Island, K2, Strange Interlude, Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Quilters. He's received the 1997 Merritt Award for Excellence in Design and Collaboration, two Washington Helen Hayes Awards and three Tony nominations. His work has been seen at major theaters throughout the country, including Seattle Rep, New York Shakespeare Festival, Guthrie Theater, Shakespeare Theater Company, Goodman and Lincoln Center Theater. Allen teaches at New York Univ. and is very proud to have the Arena Stage fellows program named in his honor.

RYAN RUMERY (Sound Designer) is a musician, composer and sound designer. His work was last seen at Arena in Let Me Down Easy. Ryan was named one of D.C. Metro's "Favorite Designers of 2013" for his score and design of The Convert at Woolly Mammoth. He has received Helen Hayes nominations for The Convert, Stunning, Thief River and Vigils (at Woolly Mammoth) and for The Heavens are Hung in Black at Ford's Theater. He recently wrote the scores for Between Riverside and Crazy (Atlantic, and upcoming at Second Stage), By the Water (MTC), Port Authority (Irish Rep) and Fool for Love (Williamstown, and coming to Broadway Fall 2015). He performs with The Painted Bird (KioSK Festival (Slovakia), BAC, La MaMa, PS122, Legion Arts, Wexner). Last year, Ryan produced an album for The Joy of Harm, featuring Calexico's Jacob Valenzuela, recorded by Craig Schumacher at Wavelab. EP's include 4000 Miles (Lincoln Center), Ivanov (CSC) and FlowerMan. Film credits include Gatewood; FlowerMan; and And, Apart.

WILLIAM E. CRUTTENDEN III (Stage Manager) is thrilled to be back at Arena Stage where he last managed Five Guys Named Moe. Other Arena credits include Guess Who's Coming to Dinner starring Malcolm-Jamal Warner and The Mountaintop. Additional D.C. credits include Totalitarians; Detroit; The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity; Mr. Burns, A Post- Electric Play; A Bright New Boise; Bootycandy; Clybourne Park; Full Circle; BOOM!; Maria / Stuart; Measure for Pleasure and No Child… at Woolly Mammoth Theatre; Knuffle Bunny at the Kennedy Center; And the Curtain Rises, Sunset Boulevard, Chess and I Am My Own Wife at Signature Theatre; Is He Dead?, Bad Dates and Of Mice and Men at Olney Theatre Center; and Twice Upon a Time at Imagination Stage. Off-Broadway credits include Perfect Harmony. Regional credits include The Will Rogers Follies starring Tom Wopat at Merry Go Round Playhouse; The Mountaintop at Alley Theatre, Wild with Happy-Workshop at The Public Theater; Race at Gulfshore Playhouse; and Doubt: A Parable at West Virginia Public Theatre.

MARNE ANDERSON (Assistant Stage Manager) is excited to be a part of King Hedley II. Other Arena Stage credits include Five Guys Named Moe, Mother Courage and Her Children, Maurice Hines is Tappin' Thru Life, The Mountaintop, Metamorphoses, Long Day's Journey into Night, Oklahoma!, A Time to Kill, The Arabian Nights, Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies, The Fantasticks and The Quality of Life. Other regional credits include Cricket in Times Square; The Wings of Ikarus Jackson at the Kennedy Center, TYA; Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare Theatre Company; SPIN at Signature Theatre; You for Me for You; Mr. Burns, A Post- Electric Play; and In the Next Room, or the vibrator play at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. National tours include Young Frankenstein. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and a proud member of Actors' Equity Association. She is thankful to her family for all their love and support.


King Hedley II – Meet the Cast

The original "Wiz" himself, Andre De Shields, plus Arena favorites E. Faye Butler, Bowman Wright and more head the cast of King Hedley II.

King Hedley II – TEASER

Don't miss August Wilson's KING HEDLEY II, a stirring drama, alive with the truths and struggles of every forgotten American.

Behind the Scenes

Welcome to Off Book – Arena Stage's online forum featuring American artists at the top of their game, talking about what they do best. Actors, directors, writers, dramaturgs, designers – unscripted and unrehearsed.

One of August Wilson's darkest plays, King Hedley II is also one of his most poetic and heartbreaking. At a time when Pittsburgh was going through the worst economic times the city has ever experienced—worse than our recent Great Recession—August Wilson captures all of the frustrations, power and resiliency of life as an African American man. Read more

We are thrilled to have director Timothy Douglas make his Arena Stage debut with King Hedley II. The ninth installment of August Wilson's acclaimed Century Cycle of plays examining Black America, King Hedley II is one of the most stirring and ferocious explorations of fate, honor and the daily struggles of American life. As rehearsals began, we sat down with Timothy to get his thoughts on the poetry of August Wilson, and his approach to this powerful play. Read More

There is a long line of amazing actors who have been associated with August Wilson plays. Add to that elite fraternity André De Shields, E. Faye Butler, Jessica Frances Dukes, Bowman Wright, Michael Anthony Williams and KenYatta Rogers. The heart and intelligence these artists bring to the table is unsurpassed. During rehearsals, they shared their insights into King Hedley II and their memories of the first time they discovered August Wilson. Just who is the veteran and who is the virgin Wilson performer may surprise you! Read More

Of all our great American playwrights, only August Wilson succeeded in his quest to create a cycle of 10 plays (Eugene O'Neill attempted a cycle but was unable to complete it). Dedicated to the African American experience, Wilson's 10-play Century Cycle (also known as the Pittsburgh Cycle) spans the 20th century—one play for each decade. All but Ma Rainey's Black Bottom are set against the backdrop of Pittsburgh's Hill District—a home Wilson left but returned to throughout his life. Read More

Audio Clips

Hear from King Hedley II cast member Jessica Frances Dukes (Tonya). Clips courtesy of WNEW.


Timothy DouglasStaging August Wilson
Wednesday, February 18, following the 7:30 p.m. performance
Join us for a special post-show discussion with King Hedley II director Timothy Douglas, director/actress Michele Shay (Tony nominee for her work in Wilson's Seven Guitars), No Rules Theater Artistic Director Joshua Morgan and Arena Stage Director of Artistic Programming, Robert Barry Fleming.

Post-Show Discussions

February 18 at noon
February 24 at noon
February 26 at 8:00 p.m.
March 3 at 7:30 p.m.
March 4 at noon


Audio Described

February 28, 2015 – 2:00pm

Open Captioned

March 4, 2015 – 7:30pm
March 5, 2015 – 8:00pm

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