The Flip Side: Remembering August Wilson (and Prince, and Jon Snow)

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This week I learned that Jon Snow is officially dead, that the Guggenheim in New York acquired a solid-gold toilet that will actually function, and that Harriet Tubman is the new face of the American $20 bill. In other words, lots happened. Of equal note—and perhaps higher relevance to the theatre community—on Monday April 18 the McCarter Theatre Centre and Princeton University’s Lewis Centre for the Arts hosted an event, comprised of a panel discussion and reading, that commemorated twenty years since August Wilson’s now-famous speech The Ground on Which I Stand. The full panel can be viewed here.

If you’re not familiar with August Wilson, I suggest taking a minute or two to look him up. A Tony-winning and two-time Pulitzer-winning playwright, his legacy is a series of ten plays, The Pittsburgh Cycle, each of which is set in a different decade, most of which take place in Pittsburgh’s Hill District (a historically black neighbourhood), and all of which channel the African American experience.

In 1996, Wilson addressed the members in attendance at the Theatre Communications Group National Conference. His speech covered issues of race, diversity, and opportunity in American theatre. Last week’s event made two things evident. First, that Wilson—already regarded as one of the foremost playwrights of the 20th century—was instrumental in starting the conversation about equal opportunity in the theatre community. And second, that though much progress has been made, the relevance of his speech indicates the lengths we have to go. You can read about last week’s panel here.

In other news…

  • A fun quiz was released by the Guardian in honour of Shakespeare’s 400th. Who knew Justin Bieber and Shakespeare were so similar?
  • Jennifer Hudson, Cynthia Erivo, and the cast of The Color Purple honour Prince with an unbelievable performance of Purple Rain following their April 21st performance. Have a listen.

 


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Written By

Hannah works in casting, the only profession that allows her to truthfully use work as an excuse to stay home and watch TV. A dropout of both preschool and law school, she loves Montreal bagels, Harry Potter, and conversations about diversity. Her diet starts tomorrow.