August Wilson was one of America’s most successful playwrights. His 10-play series, The Pittsburgh Cycle, chronicles the experience of black America through the 20th Century. Each play is set in a different decade. Some characters appear in more than one play. The children of characters in the early plays appear in the latter plays. It’s a bit Shakespearean in scope.
I saw the Broadway revival of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. It takes place in 1911 during the Great Migration. Recently freed slaves were migrating north to find a new life, causing tension between the white working class and blacks who had already settled in the area.
I saw the original Broadway production way back in 1988 when I first moved to New York. Fortunately, my brain is so porous that I didn’t remember a thing about it, so it was as if I was watching it anew.
I’m afraid that white tourists are going to say to themselves, “Oh, that’s a black play. It’s not for me.” I hope that’s not the case because there are themes of alienation and finding yourself that can reverberate with anyone who has a beating heart. The actors work their asses off to great effect so I hope it finds traction.