Arena Stage presents “Seven Guitars” by August Wilson


His pieces have made acclaimed films from “Fences” to “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”. This month, Arena Stage presents August Wilson’s “Seven Guitars” through December 26th.

OMCP’s Jason Fraley presents “Seven Guitars” at Arena Stadium (Part 1)

His pieces have made acclaimed films from “Fences” to “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”. This month, Arena Stage presents “Seven Guitars” by August Wilson through December 26th.

“It’s set in the 1940s in Pittsburgh,” artistic director Molly Smith told WTOP. “It’s a story centered on seven different lives that are interconnected when an old friend and blues singer Floyd Barton promises to change his life after a surprise windfall.”

The show is the fifth installment in Wilson’s legendary cycle of Pittsburgh plays.

“August Wilson emphasized that he was going to write about the last 100 years of American history, the 20th century essentially,” Smith said. “That’s exactly what he’s done: every decade of African Americans living in Pittsburgh in the Hill District… other writers have tried it. Eugene O’Neill tried to write a cycle of plays and only managed to come out with four.

Wilson’s storytelling rivals the best playwrights in theater history.

“He was a brilliant poet,” said Smith. “He used to sit in a cafe and write his plays… he basically became Shakespeare for African American artists and audiences. He is our American Shakespeare… his language is still so tasty, so stimulating and so much on the vernacular of the time, only through the eye of the poet.

The rhythm of his dialogues is complemented by cool blues music.

“I think people are going to really like it because it’s imbued with some great, soaring blues beats,” Smith said. “It’s done by Tazewell Thompson, a musician himself and a great director for the tour – it’s done in the Fichandler space, so it will be on the tour.”

Visually, the whole story takes place in a single setting in Pittsburgh.

“It’s happening outside in a backyard,” Smith said. “Half of the whole thing has been sitting here for a year and a half… collecting dust, but it’s a backyard, so the dirt didn’t hurt. “

The relevant framework and universal themes are sure to inspire audiences.

“This is our interconnection,” Smith said. “It’s something August Wilson has in every one of his plays… it’s about a character’s struggle to become someone, a character’s struggle to leave the past behind and become someone.” one that he wants to be… we all have that. This is the second chance. Can I get a second chance in life?

The tickets could even be a good stocking stuffer gift.

“Normally we do a big musical right now, but we just thought, hey, there are people out there who want to see some drama during the holiday season,” Smith said. “They have their families with them, maybe they are real theater lovers from different parts of the country. It’s a perfect place to come and see great actors tell an incredible story.

Proof of vaccination and mandatory masks inside.

WTOP’s Jason Fraley Presents “Seven Guitars” at Arena Stadium (Part 2)

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