The Piano Lesson written by August Wilson directed by Jason Nious
Dates & Times: 7 pm–April 7, 8, 10, 13, 14, 17, 21, 22, 24
2 pm–April 9, 16, 23
Venue: College of Southern Nevada, Backstage Theatre, 3200 E. Cheyenne Ave., North Las Vegas, NV 89030
et Prices: $40 general admission; $35 student, senior, military
The fourth play in August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle, The Piano Lesson follows the Charles family and their struggle to survive in the economic crisis of 1936 America. The sale of a beloved heirloom, a hand-carved piano with unimagined sentimental value, may be the key to stability. But paring with this magical icon of family history will reveal more than anyone bargained for. The 1990 Pulitzer Prize winner for Drama examines ancestral ties, material realities, and the deep roots that hold them all together.
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APF Behind the Scenes
Producers' Note (from the program)
Let’s talk about rhythm.
In music, rhythm refers to patterns – the recurrence and repetition of notes and silences; the placements of sounds in time; the design that makes up the song. It can be random or regular. It can alternate and flow. Its progression through the music defines the piece’s length and pace and tension. It is the literal beating heart of musical expression.
August Wilson writes in rhythm. The music of language is his distinctive instrument. He never formally studied theater. In fact, he dropped out of high school at age 15 after being falsely accused of plagiarism. In place of formal schooling, Wilson camped out in the local library, immersing himself in the language and culture of his neighborhood. All but one of the plays in his seminal Century Cycle are set in that place – the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “I owe my education to the 4 B’s,” he would say. “The Blues, the art of Romare Bearden, the poetry of Amiri Baraka and the writing of Jorge Luis Borges.”
There’s literal rhythm in The Piano Lesson, of course. The central struggle in the play is concentrated on a musical instrument, an artfully carved piano whose owner allows it to sit neglected in the parlor of the Charles home. Its value is not, however, determined by its musicality. The piano is a link to something much greater – a troubled past shared by a family struggling with poverty, legacy and regret. But it’s not the only instrument in the home: each and every member of the Charles household is gifted with the rhythm of August Wilson. Even when simply speaking, these characters seem to sing with the poetry of history, revelation and the great gift of storytelling that defines their individual connections to a past that both betrayed and defines them. It’s a fascinating song with an indelible rhythm; a cadence that is unique yet familiar; a meter that drives and compels; a beat that defines this family’s lilting, bluesy song.
JDK and A-MP