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 four-year collaboration between dance companies in Switzerland and South Korea culminated in a sold-out performance in Basel.
- To almost no one’s surprise, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton was awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
- Idina Menzel, one of my favourites—and let me stress I loved her pre-Frozen—sits down for a chat with Wicked producer Marc Platt for Playbill.
- 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.
- And finally, to return to August Wilson, filming began on the movie adaptation of his Tony- and Pulitzer-winning play Fences. Fences stars Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, who acted together in its Broadway revival in 2010.