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Pulitzer Prize-Winner to Appear on Shakespearean Stage


 

PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING THE PIANO LESSON OPENS AT OSF

August Wilsonís Play is the 11th and Final Production of 2003 Season


Ashland, Ore.óThe Oregon Shakespeare Festival will open August Wilsonís Pulitzer Prize-winning play, The Piano Lesson, at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, August 2 in the Angus Bowmer Theatre. The play is directed by OSF Associate Artistic Director Timothy Bond.
     The Piano Lesson is among Mr. Wilsonís cycle of plays exploring the African-American experience in each decade of the 20th century and the fourth play of the cycle to be produced at OSF. Also staged by OSF were Fences (Portland, 1991), Joe Turnerís Come and Gone (1993) and Seven Guitars (1999).
      Set in 1936, The Piano Lesson takes audiences into the home of Doaker Charles, who now shares a home with his niece, Berniece, and her daughter, Maretha. Boy Willie, Bernieceís brother, recently out of prison in Mississippi, arrives with a truckload of watermelons and shares his dream of buying back a small piece of land that their family worked as slaves and then as sharecroppers. To achieve that dream, he urges Berniece to sell the family piano that sits unused in the house. She is loath to part with the only physical legacy left to them and one filled with spirits and memories she fears to disturb. The piano becomes a symbol, not only of the conflict between brother and sister, but of the conflicts of every African-American family whose American roots were planted as a result of slavery.
     The design team for this production also collaborated with Mr. Bond in Milwaukee Repertory Theaterís 2002 production of Mr. Wilsonís Jitney. Scenic designer Scott Bradley, new to the Festival this season, has designed for Off-Broadway productions and numerous regional theatres and received a New York Drama Desk Award and Tony nomination for his design of Mr. Wilsonís Seven Guitars. Costume designer Helen Qizhi Huang, is the Resident Costume Designer at The Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C., and her most recent designs for OSF include Twelfth Night, Les Blancs and Blues for an Alabama Sky. Lighting designer Dawn Chiang is an OSF veteran of seven seasons, whose Broadway credits include Zoot Suit and Tango Pasion. Music composition and direction is by Michael Keck, who in addition to composing for regional theatres throughout the country has numerous performance credits.
     The cast of The Piano Lesson features Josiah Phillips as Doaker, G. Valmont Thomas as Boy Willie, Chris Butler as Lymon, Crystal Fox as Berniece, Aldo Billingslea as Avery, Abdul Salaam El Razzac as Wining Boy, Maya Thomas as Grace and Shameka Hubbard as Maretha.
     August Wilson is the author of nine plays and has received a Pulitzer Prize for Fences and The Piano Lesson, a Tony Award for Fences, Great Britainís Olivier Award for Jitney, seven New York Drama Critics Circle Awards for Ma Raineyís Black Bottom, Fences, Joe Turnerís Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running, Seven Guitars and Jitney, an Emmy Award nomination for his screenplay adaptation of The Piano Lesson and a Tony nomination for Best Play for King Hedley II.
     Tickets for The Piano Lesson may be purchased at the Box Office at 15 South Pioneer Street or by calling 541-482-4331. Check ticket availability for the nine productions currently in repertory at http://www.osfashland.org/.





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