Re-Visioning Tomorrow: Emancipation for a New Century

August Wilson in a theater

August Wilson

The African American experience of 20th century life is captured in The Emancipated Century, a staged reading series of August Wilson’s plays.

The African American experience of twentieth century life is aptly captured in The Emancipated Century, a staged reading series of August Wilson’s renowned ten-play cycle. Wilson’s plays, each set in a separate decade, dramatize the lives of black Americans and showcase African American urban culture and history. The staging celebrates the 150-year anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, and coincides with such charged national events as the Trayvon Martin case and the roll-back of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Public conversations about the works and their relevance to today’s civic events are interspersed with the performances. All events and performances are free to attend.
The Department of Performing Arts and the Trotter Institute at UMass Boston presented Wilson’s plays with the support of a Mass Humanities’ Crisis, Community, & Civic Culture Project Grant from October through December, 2013.

Monday, October 7, 2013 7:00 PM
Staged Reading: August Wilson’s “Seven Guitars”
Floyd Barton, who had one hit record, has come back to Pittsburgh’s Hill District years later, after a string of disappointments, and tries to rekindle his love affair with the woman he left behind for fame.

Monday, October 21, 2013 7:00 PM
Staged Reading: August Wilson’s “Fences”
Troy Maxson, who played baseball in the segregated era, regrets that his talent did not receive more recognition, and the resulting bitterness festers, poisoning his relationships and his future.

Monday, November 4, 2013 7:00 PM
Staged Reading: August Wilson’s “Two Trains Running”
At the end of the 1960s, an urban area that was once haven and refuge, is dying, reflected in the pending sale of a neighborhood diner and the high number of burials in the funeral parlor across the street.

Monday, November 18, 2013 7:00 PM
Staged Reading: August Wilson’s “Jitney”
A prodigal son returns, and his father, sorely disappointed in the loss of his offspring’s promise, struggles with accepting the detours of the past and insuring that the investments he has made bear fruit.

Monday, December 2, 2013 7:00 PM
Staged Reading: August Wilson’s “King Hedley II”
In the 1980s, the urban landscape has become a waste land choked with weeds, and the city streets are spawning violence everywhere. So much so that the past, its resilience and spirit, have nowhere to stand.

Monday, December 16, 2013 7:00 PM
Staged Reading: August Wilson’s “Radio Golf”
In 1997, Harmond Wilks is running to be Pittsburgh’s first black mayor and partnering in a gentrification plan, which forces him to choose if he will scuttle or save a sacred monument from the past.

William Monroe Trotter Center for Black Culture and History in Boston was awarded a $10,000 Project Grant responding to the Crisis, Community, and Civic Culture theme for a series of six staged readings of plays from August Wilson’s ten-play cycle about the lives of African Americans in the decades of the twentieth century. [Project Director: Barbara Lewis; Date Awarded: 6/21/2013]

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