August Wilson’s plays are no longer as off-limits as I thought:
The Signature Theatre Company season of Wilson’s work, previously terminated by his estate, will now proceed as scheduled. This is the only sane resolution, really, but I’m very uncomfortable that a cancellation occurred in the first place.
But what almost didn’t happen professionally has always been in process at Woodlands High School in Hartsdale, NY. Last month the school’s drama students began doing what Signature almost could not:
Starting with Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, they will present two Wilson shows a year for the next five years, ending with Gem of the Ocean.
Director John MacLean is calling this “The August Wilson Project.”
I think it’s impressive enough that Woodlands is doing two straight plays a year, let alone making it part of a project that will last longer than any one student’s high school career. Also impressive is that, judging by pictures from their recent production of The King and I, Woodlands seems to be a genuinely multi-ethnic school.
Signature plans to only read Wilson’s entire cycle, fully producing just three of his plays. Seeing full productions—with a gradually changing ensemble—is daring for any theatre company, let alone a high school drama class. Here’s wishing the students of Woodlands High School, present and future, the best of luck.