August in october

August Wilson Plays

October 2014

       program

Piano LessonAt the end of October, 2014, ODAG performed for the general population, and then for family and friends, dramatic readings of two shortened plays by August Wilson: The Piano Lesson and Joe Turner's Come and Gone. Entitled "August in October" by Oberlin student director, Katy Early, the show was directed by Phyllis Gorfain, Lillian White, Katy Early, Julia Melfi, Amy Jackson-Smith, and Isabella McKnight. The ODAG men picked these plays for performance from among other scripts they have studied together during the summers of 2013 and 2014. These plays by Africana authors included three plays by August Wilson, Lorraine Hansberry's Raisin in the Sun, and Kwame Kwei-Armah's Beneatha's Place, an imaginative follow-up to Raisin in the Sun.

These two plays by August Wilson were chosen for dramatic reading by the men of ODAG, who especially value these works for their gripping family conflicts, engaging characters, breathtaking climaxes, soulful music, memorable language, and highly relevant themes—particularly for African Americans and/or anyone who has suffered from a history of incarceration.

turner bookThe Piano Lesson (1987) and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (1984) won out over other outstanding plays by African American playwrights because of the special ways these plays engage issues of loss and recovery for families and communities. In these play-worlds, families are severely divided by legacies of pain inherited from enslavement, incarceration, and subjugation. Both plays achieve transcendent resolutions, however, and bring together opposed family members—and their larger communities—by invoking the healing spirits of ancestors or by achieving a newly heroic self-reliance. ODAG hopes that actors and audiences—inspired by Wilson’s passionate characters—may also employ these same resources to conquer the oppressive forces that can strip people of their pasts or selfhood.