This amazing series is an exclusive presentation by Harlem World Magazine from May 3rd to June 21st, 2015 of audio recordings from August Wilson’s American Century Cycle in collaboration with The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC & WQXR.
In the fall of 2013, The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC & WQXR undertook a historic undertaking: to record — for the first time — all 10 plays from August Wilson’s lauded American Century Cycle.
For this unprecedented project, The Greene Space at WNYC and WQXR in Lower Manhattan convened close to 100 theater artists from around the globe to record Wilson’s magnum opus. Dr. Indira Etwaroo, Executive Producer, in partnership with the August Wilson Estate, led by Wilson’s widow Constanza Romero, brought together many longtime Wilson collaborators and interpreters, including Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson, the project’s Artistic and Associate Director and Tony Award-nominee Stephen McKinley Henderson. Directors included Tony Award-winner Kenny Leon; Tony Award-winner Phylicia Rashad; Michele Shay; and Marion McClinton. The recorded readings feature many actors reprising the roles they performed on stage, including Tony Award-winner Leslie Uggams; Drama Desk and Obie Award-winner Anthony Chisholm; Obie Award-winner Brandon Dirden; Russell Hornsby; Tony Award-winner Roger Robinson; Emmy Award-winner Keith David; Ebony Jo-Ann; John Earl Jelks; Roslyn Ruff; S. Epatha Merkerson; Jerome Preston Bates; and Taraji P. Henson in her Wilson debut. The readings were scored with original music by Grammy-nominated composer Bill Sims, Jr. and other composers who worked with Wilson.
August Wilson’s acclaimed 10-play cycle captures 100 years of African American life during each decade of the 20th century. The cycle begins in the early 1900s, when wounds from slavery and the Civil War were still fresh, and closes in the 1990s, when even a large and increasingly influential black middle class could not escape persistent racial tensions.
Note: Each cycle will be released Sundays on a weekly basis.
Schedule of release dates:
May 3: 1920: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (here)
May 10: 1930: The Piano Lesson (here)
May 17: 1940: Seven Guitars (here)
May 24: 1950: Fences (here)
May 31: 1960: Two Trains Running (here)
June 7: 1970: Jitney (here)
June 14: 1980 King Hedley II (here)
June 21: 1990 Radio Golf (here)
Get more videos here. Here’s a teaser with Sonia Sanchez:
Note: These audio recordings, along with exclusive video excerpts and photographs from the readings, are available for online until August 26, 2015.
The August Wilson American Century Cycle Recording Project was made possible with the leadership support of the Ford Foundation. Further information about programs, podcasts, and stations may be found at www.nypublicradio.org.