The Fayette Citizen-Weekend Page
Wednesday, October 6, 1999
Wilson's Jitney starts in Atlanta

Weekend Editor

Playwright August Wilson has explored the African American experience with the seven plays that he has written. “The Piano Lesson” and “Fences” may be the more famous of his plays, but all of them include important themes in any person's life. In his play, “Jitney”, Wilson explores the late 1970's and the struggle between fathers and sons.

A “jitney” is an unlicensed cab system that covers a regular route according to a flexible schedule. Becker, the hard working manager of the jitney, operates the service out of a building slated to be torn down. In dealing with all of the men working at the station and their struggles, Becker must also deal with his son, Booster, who has just been released from prison for the murder of his girlfriend.

Directing the play will be Kenny Leon, considered to be one of America's leading theater visionaries. He has directed a lot of Wilson's work before and is nationally recognized for his insight into the pieces. “In this play, Wilson explores some of the emotional issues between fathers and sons, much like the struggle in “Fences”. In “Jitney”, the son desperately needs to be reconciled with his father, but the two men have a hard time understanding and accepting each other,” Leon said.

Leon has assembled a fine cast for the play, including John Lawhorn as Becker. Lawhorn is an internationally acclaimed music director and a veteran of several Wilson plays that have been performed at the Alliance. The cast also includes Taurean Blacque as Shealy. Blacque has performed both on and off Broadway and is best remembered as Detective Neal Washington on Hill Street Blues.

Wilson started writing “Jitney” in 1979. He put the piece aside after completing a first version and went on to write the six plays that have won him two Pulitzer Prizes and a Tony Award. Wilson has returned to Jitney several times over the years to refine it. The play is scheduled to open at New York's Second Stage Theatre in April 2000.

Jitney starts this Thursday, Oct. 7 and runs through Oct. 31. Performances are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. There will be two Saturday matinees, Oct 16, 23, and 30 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $15-$40 and may be purchased at the Woodruff Arts Center Box Office or by calling 404-733-5000. The Alliance Theater is located at the Woodruff Arts Center, corner of Peachtree and 15th Street in Midtown Atlanta.

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