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August Wilson Festival

  • Location

    Arena Stage
    1101 Sixth Street SW
    Washington, DC 20024

“When considering influential American playwrights, August Wilson is a giant among giants. His ideas, language and artistry pulled American theater into the 21st century, before we had even gotten there ourselves.”

Molly Smith Artistic Director

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater will kick off the company’s season-long August Wilson Festival on Friday, September 13, 2019 with performances beginning for Jitney. Ruben Santiago-Hudson directs the 2017 Broadway production – recipient of the 2017 Tony Award for Best Play Revival. This is the first of two full productions as part of the Festival, which continues Arena Stage’s tradition of showcasing the work of American Giants in the theater, following festivals for Lillian Hellman, Arthur Miller, Edward Albee and Eugene O’Neill.

Arena Stage is proud to celebrate the Pulitzer Prize-winning giant by showcasing a variety of discussions, events and panels that reflects August Wilson’s (1945- 2005) legacy of American theater. Arena has produced nine out of the 10 plays in Wilson’s American Century Cycle, which chronicles the black experience in America throughout the 20th century.

The August Wilson Festival is generously sponsored by AARP.

News

Broadway World

August Wilson Festival Kicks Off Season at Arena Stage

Events

Designers Panel: Building the World of August Wilson
September 16, 2019 from 7-8:30 p.m., with dessert reception to follow
A panel featuring several designers who worked with Wilson and helped define the world of his plays, including David Gallo (Jitney scenic designer) and Kathryn Bostic (composer for the premiere production of Gem of the Ocean, among others), moderated by Constanza Romero Wilson, costume designer and collaborator of the playwright.
Reserve

August Wilson, Here and Now: A conversation with Arena Stage’s Molly Smith and Ford’s Theatre’s Paul Tetreault
September 25, 2019 from 6:30-7:15 p.m.
Join us in the Molly Smith Study before the evening performance of August Wilson’s Jitney for a discussion on the challenges, opportunities, and necessity of producing the work of August Wilson in Washington, D.C., in 2019. Arena Stage Artistic Director, Molly Smith, and Ford’s Theatre Director, Paul Tetreault, will be joined on the panel by Dr. Sandra Shannon, Howard University Professor Emerita and Founder & President of the August Wilson society, and Riley Temple, scholar and theologian. Jitney runs at Arena Stage until Sunday, October 20, and Fences opens at Ford’s Theatre Friday, September 27, until Sunday, October 27.
Reserve

Writers Panel: On the Shoulders of Giants — August Wilson’s Dramatic Legacy
September 28, 2019 from 5:30-7 p.m.
A panel featuring contemporary playwrights inspired by Wilson and his work, including librettist Kirsten Childs (Bella: An American Tall Tale) poet-playwright Marcus Gardley (Arena’s Every Tongue Confess) and hip-hop theater pioneer Will Power (The Seven; Fetch Clay, Make Man).
Reserve

Pre-Show Surround Discussion: Gentrification in Washington, D.C. (in partnership with the August Wilson Society)
October 16, 2019 from 6-7 p.m.
Inspired by the story of Jitney, a panel of local activists and experts will discuss the history and current status of gentrification in Washington, D.C., including Mignotae KebedeTony Lewis Jr., Brian McCabe and Ronald Moten. Dr. Sandra Shannon of the August Wilson Society will moderate the discussion.
Reserve

Post-Show Discussion with Paul Ellis, Wilson's nephew and Executive Director of August Wilson House
October 17, 2019 following the 8 p.m. performance of Jitney
Reserve

Pre-Show Surround Discussion: African American Music and Society (in partnership with the August Wilson Society)
April 24, 2020 from 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Inspired by the story of Seven Guitars, a panel of local experts will discuss how music speaks to the historical moment of the play, a time where the African American community was advancing culturally while undergoing profound changes due to relocation, changing tastes, and changing.
Reserve

Women of Wilson Panel
April 25, 2020 from 5:30-7 p.m.
A panel of women, including award-winning actress, director and producer Michele Shay (Broadway’s Seven Guitars), who have originated and defined Wilson’s strong female characters. The panel will be moderated by Dr. Soyica Colbert, chair of the Department of Performing Arts, director of Theater and Performance Studies and a professor of African American Studies at Georgetown University. Colbert was a dramaturg for Arena’s 2018 production of Wilson’s Two Trains Running.
Reserve

August Wilson Documentary Film Screening
"American Masters" August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand
May 4, 2020 at 7 p.m.
Reserve

Participants

KATHRYN BOSTIC

participant

KIRSTEN CHILDS

participant

DAVID GALLO

participant

MARCUS GARDLEY

participant

WILL POWER

participant

DR. SANDRA G. SHANNON

patricipant

MOLLY SMITH

participant

RILEY K. TEMPLE

participant

PAUL TETREAULT

participant

CONSTANZA ROMERO WILSON

moderator

More coming soon