Legendary playwright August Wilson chronicled the African-American experience in the 20th century in a series of 10 plays that have stood as a landmark in the history of Broadway theater and black culture. Wilson’s celebrated 10-play cycle captures 100 years of African American life during each decade of the 20th century. The August Wilson Estate has finally granted an organization the rights to record Wilson’s entire remarkable American Century Cycle.
Earlier this week, Lincoln and The Greene Space at WNYC and WQXR began live dramatic readings of all 10 plays in front of a live studio audience and recorded them for the benefit of generations to come.
The series kicked off Monday, August 26 (with a run through September 28), bringing together many longtime Wilson collaborators and interpreters, including the project’s Artistic Director and Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson; Associate Director and Tony Award-nominee Stephen McKinley Henderson; Directors include Tony Award-nominee Kenny Leon; Tony Award-winner Phylicia Rashad; Michele Shay; and Marion McClinton.
The readings will 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; Wendell Pierce; Jesse L. Martin; Harry Lennix and Taraji P. Henson in her Wilson debut. The readings will be scored with original music by Grammy-nominated composer Bill Sims, Jr. and other composers who worked with Wilson. The plays will be presented in the order in which they premiered, with the recordings shared with institutions around the U.S.
The Lincoln Motor Company is the signature sponsor of the August Wilson American Century cycle—to take audiences on this incredible journey through a century of plays portraying the 20th century African American experience, an American experience that has global resonance.