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August Wilson Center - Front & Center - “Amplifying African American Voices”

Keeping Phyllis Hyman’s Legacy Alive

Posted in General, Review on February 27th, 2010 by Shaunda – Be the first to comment
August Wilson Center fans, welcome another one of our new guest bloggers, Kieashia Edwell. An avid music and arts aficionado, Kieashia was very enthusiastic about reviewing the Center’s “Tribute to Phyllis Hyman,” held February 19-20 for 2 sold-out performances. The following is her very candid perspective of the evening. Please feel free to comment on how you viewed the evening. And check out the video clips of a couple of the awesome and LIVELY performances.

Walking into the August Wilson Center for the Tribute to Phyllis Hyman, I could not help but to notice that the place was alive! Everyone was dressed to the nines, the place was filled with so much energy-I knew then, this was going to be a show to remember. After scooting past a few people who had clearly had more than their fair share of wine and spirits, I made my way to the theatre, found my seat and got comfortable. An old soul myself, I’m familiar with such artists as Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Stylistics and The Temptations. So, I was ready to relax, hear the pianist (and musical director) Alton Merrell play that big black instrument, and groove to the rich sounds of the legendary Phyllis Hyman.

The house lights dimmed and there was a short intro by the emcee, KDKA’s Lynne Hayes-Freeland, who used words like amazing and

August Wilson Center's "Tribute to Phyllis Hyman"

August Wilson Center's "Tribute to Phyllis Hyman"

wonderful to describe what the packed house was about to see. The band took their place as the stage lit up in front of me. In walked Laila Bey, Tamara Faulkner, Teresa Hawthorne and Deborah Moncrief singing an inspiring rendition of Phyllis’ “Just 25 Miles To Anywhere.” They were dressed with the same flare, style and pizzazz of Ms. Hyman herself. At the end of the song, a photo of the late songstress was projected on a large screen to spark our memory, and the ladies exited. The musicians transitioned into perhaps the most familiar of Phyllis Hyman’s jams. “You Know How To Love Me” was performed by Laila Bey, who gave a good vocal performance, but left a little to be desired. Although she possessed a powerful vocal range and looked beautiful, she lacked stage presence–something Phyllis was known for possessing.  After quickly exiting the stage, Ms. Bey made way for Deborah Moncrief. The band then engaged the crowd with the slow and steady “No One Can Love You More.” Mrs. Moncrief belted out a spectacular version of the timeless ballad. With that soulful and strong performance, she made us all remember when we cried along with Phyllis as she pleaded with her love.

We were then taken back to 1978 by Tamara Faulkner and her lively version of “The Answer Is You.” The crowd ooh’d and aah’d as she swept herself across the stage. Her energy was contagious, and her vocal performance was brilliant. She connected well with the audience and even kicked off her shoes to replicate the famous performances Ms. Hyman was known to give. Tamara’s scatting and strong personality kept us enthralled in her presentation. It was then Teresa Hawthorne’s turn to show us her chops. Her version of “Betcha By Golly Wow” was somewhat nasal and frequently pitchy, but still entertaining. It was hard not to tap your foot to the well-known hit. More performances followed including a spectacular cover of “Living Inside Your Love,” “Be Careful” and “When You Get Right Down To It.” We were then treated to yet another moving presentation by Deborah Moncrief with “Living All Alone.” A cover of “Gonna Make Changes” by Tamara Faulkner closed out the first half of the show.

Upon returning from our little intermission, Deborah Moncrief took us back with a true Phyllis Hyman classic - “Old Friend.” It was another breathtaking performance by Mrs. Moncrief and subsequently earned her a well-deserved standing ovation. We then enjoyed Ms. Hawthorne’s third performance of the evening. Her rendition of “As You Are” wowed the audience and had few mistakes in pitch and tone. Laila Bey and Tamara Faulkner returned with their moving presentation of “Somewhere In My Lifetime,” and “Don’t Wanna Change The World” marking the later years of Ms. Hyman’s career. Perhaps the most memorable performance of the evening, Sonya Carter, of the three background singers, sang “I Refuse to Be Lonely” with such passion and strength that she earned a lasting standing ovation from the crowd. She did a near perfect job of capturing the raw emotion and meaning behind the song. I, for one, was amazed, and wondered how they could not use her as the lead for more of the concert’s pieces. The show concluded with the cast joining together for “In Search of My Heart.”

The August Wilson Center chose the perfect production to share with its members. The striking performances featured in this show had me tapping and humming all the way home. These remarkable singers truly captured the bold and sensuous qualities of Phyllis Hyman’s music. Overall, the night was filled with joy, laughter, and sheer wonder at the talent of the fabulous live band. I was enchanted by the booming bass and distinctive moan of the trombone. I think that Phyllis would have been pleased with the passion behind these voices, and the commitment to keeping her legacy alive.

–Kieashia Edwell

If you would like to be a volunteer guest blogger for the August Wilson Center and blog about your experience at the Center’s programs and events, contact the Center’s Manager of Communications & e-Marketing, Treshea N. Wade at 412.338.8734 or twade@AugustWilsonCenter.org

August Wilson Center Fellows Program - DEADLINE EXTENDED!

Posted in General on February 23rd, 2010 by Shaunda – Be the first to comment

DEADLINE EXTENDED - FRIDAY, MARCH 5, 2010

We are encouraging all African American artists or artists of African descent living in Southwestern Pennsylvania to apply to be a part of a distinguished fellowship program that promises to nurture the creative soul within.

All applications must be postmarked or brought in to our office by Friday, February 26, 2010 FRIDAY, MARCH 5, 2010. The entire application can be downloaded along with a FAQ from our Web site’s homepage. If you have any questions concerning the Fellows program, please call Shaunda Miles at 412.338.8733 for information.

Take a moment to listen to the following video message from Shay Wafer, the Center’s Vice President of Programs. Good luck!

The Legendary, the Late Phyllis Hyman - August Wilson Center’s Tribute

Posted in Events, General, Review on February 18th, 2010 by Shaunda – Be the first to comment


Sensuous and sassy. Bold and brilliant. Earthy and ethereal.Phyllis Hyman

Phyllis Hyman was all these things and more.

As a singer she was nearly unmatched in her ability to convey the depths of the pain and heartache of lost love. Phyllis, Philly-born and Pittsburgh-raised, could tackle pop and jazz standards as well as up-tempo R&B with equal aplomb. Yet it was the vulnerability of her ballads that most endeared her to fans, who took the journey with her to those lonely, dark places of which she sang.

The August Wilson Center is paying tribute to the late singer Friday, February 19 and Saturday, February 20 by producing a full concert of Phyllis Hyman tunes: 16 songs, 7 voices selected from an open audition and a 7-piece band led by the awesome Alton Merrell. Friday’s show sold out in just a couple of weeks–here’s a tip:

Get your tickets now for Saturday’s show!

Shay Wafer, the Center’s Vice President of Programs, and director for this event, took a few moments to talk with KQV’s Elaine Effort about the Tribute to Phyllis Hyman.

The interview is in three parts. Take a look!

Also–Don’t miss out on this free educational event!

African American Mental Health Forum
Saturday, February 20, 2 to 4 pm
August Wilson Center Education Center, Free

African Americans are at high risk for mental illness, but less likely to receive mental health services, diagnosis and treatment, says a 2002 Surgeon General’s report. This panel discussion explores the history of mental health issues in the African American community and provides steps you can take to assist others in their well-being. Panelists include: Dr. Charma Dudley, Clinical Director - Family Resources, Dr. Daniel Hall, Dr. Nelson Harris, Jeannie Hyman (sister of Phyllis Hyman) and Marguerita Matthew. For information, call 412.258.2700.

Our Haiti: Words from Daniel Bernard Roumain

Posted in Community, Events, General, Guest Posts on January 25th, 2010 by Shaunda – Be the first to comment
Innovative composer, performer, band leader, artist Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) is not just passionate about the music he births out of his marriage to classical, funk, hip-hop and rock music–this Haitian American violinist is passionate about the country that holds his heritage. Much of Haiti’s Port-Au-Prince has collapsed from the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that ripped through the region January 12, leaving 200,000 and counting feared to be dead. Since then, DBR, like so many others, has been working feverishly to do whatever he can to help his Haiti.

DBR and the queen of Haitian pop, Emeline Michel, wrote the following post, and wanted us to share it with you.

Our HaitiDaniel Bernard Roumain

At this moment, in this desperate hour, I am overwhelmed with grief for all of those lost, suffering, and struggling with the realities of this deepening disaster. I am not at all certain what my response should be, and I’m gripped by a feeling of helplessness.

Emeline Michel and I are determined to do all that we can for our Haitian brothers and sisters, and we’re grateful that an array of musicians and artists are joining together in a journey of hope towards Haiti’s recovery and rebirth. We are providing websites and links for you to respond immediately, and planning concerts and other special events that will be a march towards the reconstruction and resurrection of our island-nation-one that has given us so much while never asking for anything in return. We will rebuild, we must rebuild, and in doing so, we begin the process of helping and healing those who now need us the most, now, and in the coming months and years.

Nothing is as powerful as the will of a nation to survive, the strength of people to believe, and the miracle of the individual boldly acting towards world-wide change.

–Daniel Bernard Roumain and Emeline Michel

DBR at the August Wilson Center 2/6

DBR at the August Wilson Center 2/6


EDITOR’S NOTE: DBR will be in concert at the August Wilson Center 8 pm Saturday, February 6. In our response to the earthquake, $3 from every ticket sold for this concert will be donated to Brother’s Brother Foundation for Haiti relief efforts.

Also, during hours of operation, the Center is accepting brand new personal items, including baby wipes, non-liquid soap and toothpaste, among other things that Brother’s Brother send to the country.

Great Connections

Posted in General, Guest Posts, Review on January 19th, 2010 by Shaunda – Be the first to comment
A big welcome to one of our new guest bloggers, Charlene Foggie Barnett, who we’ve featured in past articles for her participation in the August Wilson Center’s production of The Women of the Hill. Charlene, an enthusiastic and dedicated arts supporter, attended Alonzo King LINES Ballet when they performed in front of a packed house on both January 15 & 16. The following is her perspective of the evening.

I’m always fascinated about how situations are connected in the experiences of living. For the past decade, I’ve given my daughter–an 18-year-old dancer–a yearly wall calendar of ballet, modern or contemporary dancers. For the past several years, I’ve selected a calendar

Corey Scott-Gilbert

Corey Scott-Gilbert

whose monthly images are static shots, of the formidable dancers in the Alonzo King LINES Ballet Company. As we entered the August Wilson Center on Saturday evening, my daughter said to me, “you do know that this is the company whose calendars you’ve been giving me.”  I replied, “I hadn’t realized that, but I felt so compelled to see this show when I saw it advertised on the Center’s Web site.”

And it was a real treat. The performance opened with the piece Signs and Wonders, as an undulating cast of strong male dancers took the stage by force. The traditional African music appropriately accompanied the piece in intricate, pulsating rhythms. This was an impressive introduction to the company’s dynamic mentoring (by Alonzo King), coupled with superb technique.

Meredith Webster

Meredith Webster

The standouts for me were a very tall young man, whose limbs seemingly stretched across the expanse of the stage, and a shorter, stockier male dancer, who alternated between displays of strength and graceful prowess. As the enticing ladies in the company later joined them en pointe, each one demonstrated their elegantly woven fortitude. The women bore the ballet in twists and contortions that are not often

performed with such ease and grace. It looked effortless, and yet, I knew “effort” was a major point of the piece.  After a short intermission, the company performed “Refraction.” This piece, albeit very different from the first, was more melodic and swayed me into a comfortable trance, yet it’s complexities, such as the intricate daisy chain near the conclusion, persistently enticed the audience. Lighting played a unique part, and the music, by Jason Moran, was so enjoyable that I searched for it in iTunes. The relational stance between dancers, seemed to individually “pop,” while still being veiled by their unending cohesion, as a whole.

As anticipated, the event was spectacular, and my daughter and her friends enjoyed every minute of it. As usual, the audience included many of those connected to dance in Pittsburgh - Dance Council

Artist Director/Founder Alonzo King

Artist Director/Founder Alonzo King

members, teachers and dancers from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Creative And Performing Arts High School and Dance Alloy to name a few. But the theater was filled to capacity, with a variety of enthusiastic patrons of the arts. I sat in the very last row of the balcony, behind a large group of youngsters, ranging from ages 7 to 12, whose interest never wavered from what they observed on stage. That’s probably because, as I can attest (having been seated all over the theater), there is not a bad seat in the August Wilson Center house.

Immediately following the performance, several of the dancers treated audience members who chose to stay, with a question and answer “Artist Talk” session. Nature had been calling me, so I rushed off to the facilities, but those who attended told me it was a great opportunity to get to know more about Alonzo King’s vision and the company members. Afterward, as I chatted with friends in the lobby, the tallest male

Alonzo King and Laurel Keen

Alonzo King and Laurel Keen

dancer from LINES was leaving the theater. As fate would have it, a (young male) dancer friend of our family, who attends CAPA and PBT, was introduced to the LINES dancer and enjoyed a moment of encouraging conversation.

You’ve got to appreciate the August Wilson Center - not just for the great shows they bring to Pittsburgh, but for the hospitable manner in which these acts are presented. Also, at the end of a performance, I never feel pressured to abruptly leave, as I often do in other theatres, but rather enjoy browsing the well-stocked gift shop, and sharing a brief moment of conversation with friends. Thanks once again, AWC, for a lovely evening of entertainment and connection!

- August Wilson Center Patron, Charlene Foggie Barnett

OTHER COVERAGE:

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh City Paper
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (article 2)
CrossCurrents
CrossCurrents (article 2)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

EDITOR’S NOTE: Coming up next– February 6, 8 pmDaniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), a classically trained composer, performer, violinist and band-leader noted for blending funk, rock, hip-hop and classical music into an energetic and experiential sonic form.

Explore the Unknown in 2010…You Just Might Like It!

Posted in Events, General on January 5th, 2010 by Shaunda – 1 Comment

Happy New Year!

Many of you are returning back to work after a week or two of family fun, festive feasting or just plain old much-needed solitude.

Whatever the case may be, it’s 2010–a new year, for a better version of you. Well, statistics show that many people tend to fade off of their new year’s resolutions within the first 3 months of the new year, never reaching their goals. I know someone who has denounced the phrase “New Year’s Resolution” and instead has vowed to make “lifestyle adjustments.” How refreshing.

What is your lifestyle adjustment? Okay–beyond the typical “exercise more” and “stop smoking/cursing/etc.”–what is your goal?

I overheard an interesting conversation between two middle-aged women. One woman pointed at an advertisement for an event going on in the Pittsburgh Cultural District, and encouraged her friend to come along. The friend, scrunched her face and said “I’ll pass, thanks,” citing the fact that she had never heard of the performer and never had been to that type of event before. Clearly it wasn’t her style. Out of her comfort zone. Foreign.

LINES Ballet @ August Wilson Center Jan. 15-16

LINES Ballet @ August Wilson Center Jan. 15-16

As the conversation progressed, the first woman expressed how she had made a promise to her family that in the New Year they would go to more cultural events in the city. To myself, I thought, what a great “lifestyle adjustment.” After some coaxing, the second woman agreed to go.

As we begin the second half of our Inaugural Season in the brand new August Wilson Center, I encourage you all to explore the unknown. In examining the Center’s impressive and aggressive schedule of events, I realize there may be more unfamiliar than familiar names on the lineup. Also, for many performers, Pittsburgh may be unfamiliar to them. Admittedly, a few performers are indeed alien to me, a self-proclaimed cultural enthusiast.  However, I consider it a good thing, for I find it challenges me to traverse deeper into the plush rainforest we call arts and culture.

Daniel Bernard Roumain @ the August Wilson Center Feb. 6

Daniel Bernard Roumain @ the August Wilson Center Feb. 6

In about two weeks, Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet will grace the August Wilson Center stage. They are performing a piece, Signs and Wonders, celebrated by The New York Times as a work that “remains unpredictable and inventive, right up to its dazzling, fast-moving finale.” The piece, which was originally commissioned by Dance Theatre of Harlem, has toured around the world to critical acclaim and will be at the August Wilson Center January 15-16.

Then during Black History Month, the Center is presenting Daniel Bernard Roumain–a classically trained composer, performer, violinist, and band-leader noted for blending funk, rock, hip-hop and classical music into an energetic and experiential sonic form. My musical thirst (especially) is very comprehensive, and since DBR was foreign to my ipod, I decided on a whim to purchase his latest project, etudes4violin&electronix. I am actually listening to it now for the first time, and have yet to be disappointed and find myself looking forward to his February 6th performance at the Center.

Here are a few more events the Center is presenting in 2010:

Tribute to Phyllis Hyman - Feb. 19

Feb. 19

  • Habib Koite - An internationally-known Malian musician who sings and plays the guitar, integrating jazz, blues, flamenco, samba and diverse sounds from his native land.  Koite was donned “Mali’s biggest pop star” by Rolling Stone. In the same article, country/blues-star Bonnie Raitt compared Koite to Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn. He will be at the Center March 13.

    May 21

    May 21

  • Rennie Harris Puremovement - If you can appreciate dance and pure athleticism seeing this performance will definitely be worth your time. Known as the international hip-hop ambassadors, this Philly-based dance company strives to provide audiences with a sincere view of the essence and spirit of hip-hop, rather than the commercially exploited stereotypes most often presented by the media. Rennie Harris Puremovement will be at the Center May 21.

To see a complete list of all of the August Wilson Center’s upcoming events, click here!

Here’s to exploring the unknown in 2010–HAPPY NEW YEAR!

CHEERS!

Regina Carter Review: To Know Her, Is to Love Her

Posted in Events, General, Guest Posts, Review on January 2nd, 2010 by Shaunda – Be the first to comment
The following is a guest-post from arts and cultural enthusiast Carmen Ramsey Ellington. Carmen, an avid supporter of the August Wilson Center, attended the Regina Carter concert in December. Internationally acclaimed jazz violinist Regina Carter and her quartet performed pieces from her Paganini project along with music from Mali, Senegal and Uganda. Carter brought sold-out audiences to their feet with a musical style Time magazine called “probingly intelligent” and “breathtakingly daring.” This concert was presented in partnership with MCG Jazz. Carmen wanted to share her experience at the August Wilson Center with you.

Regina Carter

Regina Carter

Breathtaking.

That single word has reverberated in my mind since my mother and I had the pleasure of seeing Regina Carter and her band in concert at the August Wilson Center on December 12th.  Neither of us had ever seen Carter perform and in fact knew almost nothing about her or her music.  We were attending the concert primarily to support the Center.  Carter’s talent drew the two neophytes in, and quickly.

She opened her show with a lush, romantic piece by Habib Koite, who, coincidentally, will be performing at the August Wilson Center in mid-March 2010.  My first thought was that the song belonged on the soundtrack of a sweeping romantic epic, set somewhere like Mozambique or Cote D’Ivoire.  My second thought was that she should come back to the Center in March and perform the song with Koite.  She had my undivided attention from the very first note to the very last.

Regina Carter

Regina Carter

I felt as though I was being treated to an auditory travelogue.  The music took me to places I’ve never seen:  Uganda, Mali, Madagascar.  The melodies were at turns serious and cheeky.  The band’s 20-minute tribute to post-Katrina New Orleans was so rollicking, I had to remember that I wasn’t in the midst of Mardi Gras and had to remain in my seat.  The band also played a song in tribute to the arts and supporters of the arts.  It was a wonderful piece that made me think of all the reasons why arts education is so important.  Music truly is a universal language, one that should be cultivated and taught at an early age.

Carter was, of course, the evening’s focal point, but her band was amazing as well. I loved how well they meshed, and how Carter gave each plenty of room to shine.  Each one of the gentlemen in her band brought something unique to the evening, but surprisingly, the one who sticks out in my mind the most is Will Holshouser, the accordion player.  I never imagined that accordion music could be romantic and a bit sexy.  And Yacouba Sissoko, the kora (West African harp) player, was simply captivating.

Capitvating.  Sexy.  Romantic.  Breathtaking.  Regina Carter and her band were all that and then some.

–Carmen Ramsey Ellington

The Real ‘Women of the Hill’ Talk

Posted in Events, General, Guest Posts on January 2nd, 2010 by Shaunda – 2 Comments
The Women of the Hill
The following is a guest-post from Norma Thompson and Charlene Foggie Barnett — two of the six women who had the opportunity to act out their life stories on the August Wilson Center stage in “The Women of the Hill.” The stage piece, produced and directed by Ping Chong and Talvin Wilks, embodied the legacy of the strong women at the heart of African American culture–specifically Pittsburgh’s historical Hill District. Norma and Charlene wanted to share their experiences with you. The play and the women were the featured cover story in the Pittsburgh City Paper on November 19, 2009.

Forever Changed

Norma Thompson

Norma Thompson

One of the greatest experiences of my life was working in the production of The Women of the Hill. The producers, Ping Chong and Talvin Wilks, were excellent. Our technical staff, stage manager, and all others who worked with us had so much spirit and understanding.

Each of our stories was unique in their own way, but they wove a tapestry of the similar experiences of our lives and the history of the Hill District. The play set us on a journey together through the years -where we shared our ups and downs, triumphs and failures, hopes and fears - from the oldest to the youngest in the cast. The audience also traveled in the journey with us, and I am constantly hearing how our stories touched their lives. The audience shares in our bond with their hope for all good things to come to the Hill.

The six of us formed a bond that I hope will never be broken. Kimberly, Marlene, Phillis, Brenda, Charlene, and I have a sisterhood that looks forward to all the wonderful things the future will bring to the Hill District.

–Norma Thompson

A Wonderful Sisterhood

From the moment I became aware of the play, “The Women of the Hill,” I felt magnetically drawn to the process. Simply put, I feel that my being cast in this play was a dream come true, and I will always cherish how seamlessly my “worlds” came together.

The thought of performing was not frightening to me, because I was a theatre major in college and have performed many times since, but never for anything as personal, nor historically significant as this. I gulped each time I remembered that this play was to be included in a celebration of the great playwright, August Wilson and his homage to the strength of the black women he encapsulated in the character, Aunt Esther, of his historic Pittsburgh Cycle of plays. The thought of being a performer in this beautiful theatre, in its inaugural season, was at times, unfathomable to me.

Once confirmed that I was indeed in this play, I couldn’t wait for the rehearsal process to start and to meet the other ladies chosen. The evening finally came when I walked into the August Wilson Center, and we were introduced to one another. Immediately, we started filling in connective links as to how we might know each other, and our family and friends. Talvin Wilks, our writer/director, gave us a script overview, and discussed the next phases of the production. We did our first reading of a portion of the play, and it started to come clear to us, how this unique presentation would be performed. We all left filled with anticipation for the next meeting, and a sense of sisterhood and camaraderie began to unfold. Talvin brought treats for us to nibble on for each session, as many of us were coming from work for rehearsals, but then one cast mate made us some tasty chili one evening, and that set the tone for all of us to take turns bringing something to keep our energy up for the two weeks of rehearsals, prior to the show. One thing that stood out about our cast was it’s strong faith in God, and we prayed before each rehearsal and performance, for His honor and glory. We gave cast and crew members rides and helped each other in any way, necessary.

Charlene Foggie Barnett

Charlene Foggie Barnett

In the course of these weeks, we had rewrites, and script changes everyday, as things had to be tightened for the pace of the show. It was often quite hard to relinquish a beloved storyline, but we came to understand and appreciate the stride we needed to allow the performance to take. Along with rehearsals came television, radio, and newspaper interviews and photo sessions. We made our costume selections, which basically was to be any outfit in which we felt comfortable and most like ourselves.

In addition, Ping Chong always includes a potluck dinner with the cast and crew, prior to the production of his shows. I was privileged to host the potluck in my home, which was like having our own Thanksgiving with our new “Women of the Hill” family. We even celebrated two birthdays.

Finally the day came to hold our first rehearsal on the main stage. The script, lighting, music, props, and costumes - everything was coming together. We were all very excited, and at times edgy, because changes come fast in live theatre, and adapting quickly is essential. The full production staff, from our director’s, and stage manager all the way to the wardrobe mistress, was all wonderfully accommodating and supportive of any thing we needed. Before each actual show, Talvin and Ping led us in “theatre games” on stage, which cemented the vibrations of everyone’s feelings, and created a sense of trust between we six actors.

The performances felt magical, and although we were nervous, we gained strength from each other and through the response of the audience. It was very difficult to do our last show. We had only done one weekend together, but it felt like saying goodbye to a season long run! Many of the “professionals” commented on our positive attitude, and I can attest that I have never felt so connected to both cast and crew, in any other show I’ve ever done. I’ve had countless emails of praise from friends and audience members who attended the show. I was also stopped at the grocery store by a new couple to the Pittsburgh area, who said the piece taught them so much about the Hill District’s rich history, and they are even more proud to call Pittsburgh their new home.

My gratitude for this opportunity knows no bounds. The spirit of the August Wilson Center staff is as beautiful and impressive as the facility they work in. Ping Chong and Talvin Wilks brought the best of our collective pasts to light, and patiently gave us the confidence and poise to reveal our stories. In turn, we were honored to bring a positive view of our beloved Hill District, to the world. My thanks to my fellow cast mates, for their respect, love and friendship. I am truly blessed!

–Charlene Foggie Barnett

Don’t Miss December Jazz @ the August Wilson Center

Posted in Events, General on December 9th, 2009 by Shaunda – Be the first to comment

awc-e-mailer_2

Regina Carter’s Reverse Thread

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Click image to hear Regina Carter perform

Click image to hear Regina Carter perform

Times: Shows at 7 & 9:30 PM
Tickets: $28-$43.50
Call 412.456.6666 / pgharts.org / Visit the Box Office at Theater Square / Groups of 10+: call 412.471.6930

Traverse the globe with internationally acclaimed jazz violinist Regina Carter as she and her quartet perform pieces from her Paganini project and music from Mali, Senegal and Uganda. Carter brings audiences to their feet with a musical style Time magazine called “probingly intelligent” and “breathtakingly daring.” This concert is presented in partnership with MCG Jazz.

The presentation of Regina Carter’s Reverse Thread is made possible through the generous support of the Alcoa Foundation, Allegheny Regional Asset District, The Heinz Endowments, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation’s Mid Atlantic Tours program, National Endowment for the Arts’ American Masterpieces: Presenting initiative, National Endowment for the Arts’ Regional Touring Program, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts’ Preserving Diverse Cultures and The Pittsburgh Foundation.

The Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra
A Holiday Jazz Concert

Thursday, December 17, 2009
6 pm Pre-concert Reception and Concert / $50
A private reception with members of the orchestra and Sean Jones, artistic director
8 PM Concert only / $22.50The Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra

Call 412.456.6666 / pgharts.org /Visit the Box Office at Theater Square / Groups of 10+: call 412.471.6930

This festive holiday celebration for the entire family blends the talents of the August Wilson Center’s resident big band, Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra featuring trumpeter Sean Jones, with the extraordinary sounds of a guest vocalist. Enjoy new and traditional holiday favorites that add to the magic of the season.

Season Feature: The Aunt Ester Cycle

Posted in Events, General on November 3rd, 2009 by Shaunda – Be the first to comment

group-gem

Click image for ticket information!

The August Wilson Center for African American Culture announces its first theater event in the new center, “The Aunt Ester Cycle,” running November 10 - 22, 2009.

Beginning next week, the August Wilson Center celebrates August Wilson through the exploration of his legendary character, Aunt Ester, with passion, commitment, style and sacrifice. For 10 days, the August Wilson Center stage will be graced with established veterans, emerging brilliance and grand community women new to performance in four of the 10 plays in Mr. Wilson’s Century Cycle.

St. Louis Black Rep

GEM OF THE OCEAN BY AUGUST WILSONgem

Tuesday, November 10 / 8 pm
Wednesday, November 11 / 1 pm
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Considered one of the oldest and largest African American theatre companies in the country, the St. Louis Black Rep first premiered Gem of the Ocean in 2007 and enthralled audiences at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Directed by Andrea Frye, the all-star cast returns with Ron Himes, Linda Kennedy, Erik Kilpatrick, A.C. Smith and Deidra Starnes.

THE LEGEND OF AUNT ESTER: A SYMPOSIUM

Wednesday, November 11 / 7 pm

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette senior theater critic Christopher Rawson moderates a conversation with actors and directors who have helped to bring Aunt Ester to life, including Linda Kennedy, Ron Himes and Andrea Frye from St. Louis Black Rep’s Gem of the Ocean, Lou Bellamy from Penumbra Theatre Company, and the spectacular Michele Shay who portrayed her in three signature productions of Gem.

Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company

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Thursday, November 12 / 8 pm
Friday, November 13 / 1 pm
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Hailed as a “runaway hit” by the New Pittsburgh Courier, and “engrossing, intimate and electric” by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, this stirring production moves to the August Wilson Center stage for two encore performances. The sensational Anthony Chisholm re-creates his starring role with a brilliant cast of local and guest artists, Jonathan Berry, Lonzo Green, Eugene Lee, Nailah Blu Lewis, Leslie X Smith and Alfred Wilson, under the masterful direction of Mark Clayton Southers.
RECONSTRUCTING KING HEDLEY II: A SYMPOSIUM

Friday, November 13 / 7 pm

Acclaimed directors Paul Carter Harrison and Eileen Morris explore new and innovative approaches to select scenes from August Wilson’s King Hedley II. Using local actors and a few surprise guests, the ensemble presents an open rehearsal of dynamic scenes and monologues, including a dialogue with the audience.

Penumbra Theatre Company

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Saturday, November 14 / 8 pm
Sunday, November 15 / 3 pm
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Regarded as one of the country’s foremost interpreters of August Wilson’s work, Lou Bellamy and his star company bring their rousing production directly from its October 2009 premiere. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “what director Lou Bellamy has achieved with his production is something to sing about.” The dazzling cast features Terry Bellamy, James Craven, Abdul Salaam El Razzac, Austene Van and Kevin D. West.

Ping Chong & Company

THE WOMEN OF THE HILL 16058

Friday, November 20 & Saturday, November 21 / 8 pm
Sunday, November 22 / 3 pm
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Written and directed by Ping Chong and Talvin Wilks, this chamber piece of storytelling is a powerful new work created in collaboration with six dynamic women from Pittsburgh’s historic Hill District. Charlene Foggie Barnett, Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis, Phillis D. Lavelle, Marlene Ramsey, Brenda Tate and Norma J. Thompson share their personal experiences of shaping cultural identity out of rich and complex histories.

Tickets:

Adults: $28 per play
Children/Students: $18 per play
Seniors: 15% off adult ticket price
Symposiums: All seats $10
Festival Pass: $85.50 for 4 plays + symposia

To order tickets:

412.456.6666
pgharts.org
The Box Office at Theater Square
Groups of 10+: 412.471.6930

Special Offers:

Member Discount

August Wilson Center members receive a 20% discount on tickets. Not a member? Join on-line at AugustWilsonCenter.org or call 412.258.2700.

Matinee Deal

2 adult tickets for only $28; 1 adult & 1 child just $22.50

Dinner and the Show

Enjoy a fabulous dinner and drinks before or after the show at Little E’s Jazz Club and Restaurant or Mahoney’s Restaurant directly across Liberty Avenue from the August Wilson Center. Show your ticket for 20% off the entire bill.

The Aunt Ester Cycle is supported in part by generous contributions from the American Express Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, National Endowment for the Arts’ American Masterpieces: Presenting initiative, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts’ Preserving Diverse Cultures and The Pittsburgh Foundation. Ping Chong’s residency and The Women of the Hill received generous support from Artists & Communities, a program of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, made possible by major funding from The Heinz Endowments, the William Penn Foundation and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Educational and public programs are made possible by a grant from the Buhl Fund and the Frick Fund of the Buhl Foundation.