Tag: African-American playwrights

Denzel Washington Headlines Event in Pittsburgh Marking Renovation of August Wilson Home

Denzel Washington greets August Wilson’s daughter, Sakina Ansari-Wilson, at the groundblessing for August Wilson House. (photo by Nate Smallwood via Tribune-Review)

by Wes Venteicher via triblive.com

Actor Denzel Washington headlined a rainy ceremony Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh’s Hill District to mark the start of renovations at playwright August Wilson’s childhood home.

Washington led a $5 million fundraising effort to restore what is now called the August Wilson House. Renovations are expected to be completed in 2020, when the house is set to become a center for art and culture in the neighborhood.

“It is a privilege and an honor and a responsibility … and a joy to play a small part in keeping him alive,” Washington told an audience that huddled under umbrellas in the yard of the house at 1727 Bedford Ave.

Paul Ellis, Wilson’s nephew, led an effort to restore the nearly 200-year-old building to its 1950s-era look, matching how it appeared when Wilson lived there with his mother and five siblings. Wilson, who died in 2005, last visited the house in 1999.

Denzel Washington speaks at ground blessing of August Wilson House in Pittsburgh’s Historic Hill District (photo by Nate Smallwood via Tribune-Review)

When renovations are complete, the building — which is now on the National Register of Historic Places — will house displays and artifacts from Wilson’s life and plays. Wilson said he wanted the building to be “useful,” not only a museum, Ellis said. It will incorporate artist studios and will continue to host plays in its yard.

Duquesne University has launched a program to award fellowships to emerging writers who will live and study at Duquesne and spend time working at the House, Duquesne President Ken Gormley said.

Washington, who starred in a 2016 film production of Wilson’s play “Fences,” called Wilson one of the world’s great playwrights and talked about a familiar feeling in visiting the Hill District house. “I love August Wilson,” Washington said. “He touches my soul, our souls, in a way that no one else I know has. This is just like coming home.”

He identified some of the project’s big-name donors, noting Oprah Winfrey and actor Tyler Perry each gave $1 million and writer and producer Shonda Rhimes, director Spike Lee and actor Samuel L. Jackson all contributed.

Washington is producing nine more of Wilson’s plays — the rest of the 10 plays in the playwright’s Century Cycle.

Duquesne University has already selected its first fellow, former U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Natasha Trethewey. Trethewey read her poem “Pilgrimage” at the ceremony, which included short performances of Wilson’s work by student Jamaica Johnson and Pittsburgh actor Wali Jamal.

Read more: https://triblive.com/local/allegheny/14120687-74/denzel-washington-headlines-event-marking-renovation-of-august-wilson-home

Dominique Morisseau and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Win 2015 Steinberg Playwright Awards

Dominque Morisseau (L) and Branden Jacobs
Playwrights Dominque Morisseau (L) and Branden Jacobs (photo via eurweb.com)

Playwrights Dominique Morisseau and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins were honored at the 2015 Steinberg Playwright Awards held at Lincoln Center Theater in New York City.

The Steinberg Playwright Awards are presented biennially to playwrights in early and middle stages of their careers who have distinctive and compelling voices and whose current bodies of work exhibit exceptional talent and artistic excellence.

Jacobs-Jenkins stuns audiences with laughter, intrigue and thought compelling plots that poke at race, class and culture in plays such as Appropriate, Neighbors, War and Octoroon.

Ms. Morisseau’s plays provide an equal literary and emotional landscape and they include: Skeleton Crew, Detroit ’67, Paradise Blue and Blood At The Root.

In attendance at the Steinberg Playwright Awards were past award recipients Rajiv Joseph and Lisa D’Amour; 2015 Steinberg Playwright Awards Advisory Committee members Jeremy Cohen, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Neil Pepe, Bill Rauch and Chay Yew; as well as Laura Osnes, Celia Keenan-Bolger, John Ellison Conlee, Michael Urie, Sarah Stiles, Geneva Carr, Wesley Taylor, Montego Glover, Lynda Gravatt, Mara Davi, Ashley Park, Stephen Henderson and many more.

article by LaRita Shelby via eurweb.com

Three African-Americans Earn MacArthur Fellowships in 2013

Three African-American fellows have been named to this year's MacArthur Fellows. Pictured from left-right are Kyle Abraham, Tarell McCraney and Carrie Mae Weems. (Photos courtesy of The MacArthur Foundation)
Three African-American fellows have been named to this year’s MacArthur Fellows. Pictured from left-right are Kyle Abraham, Tarell McCraney and Carrie Mae Weems. (Photos courtesy of The MacArthur Foundation)

Twenty-four talented individuals were recognized Wednesday morning after they were named the 2013 class of MacArthur fellows – an honor given to an extraordinary group made up of individuals who have achieved much success in their personal creative pursuits.  This year, three African-Americans — Kyle Abraham, Tarell McCraney and Carrie Mae Weems – have been identified by the MacArthur Foundation and join the group of fellows who are each awarded $625,000 to use as they wish towards their creative visions.

“This year’s class of MacArthur Fellows is an extraordinary group of individuals who collectively reflect the breadth and depth of American creativity,” said Cecilia Conrad, Vice President, MacArthur Fellows Program.  “They are artists, social innovators, scientists, and humanists who are working to improve the human condition and to preserve and sustain our natural and cultural heritage. Their stories should inspire each of us to consider our own potential to contribute our talents for the betterment of humankind.”

In particular, the work of these three visonaries attempts to teach lessons and transform the ideas associated with the African-American experience.  Abraham is a New-York-based dancer and choreographer whose work is often inspired by some of his childhood memories growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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