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August Wilson's American Century Cycle

Experience the Power of an American Master

Monday, July 01, 2013

August Wilson's American Century Cycle (Collage by Hollis King)

August Wilson's celebrated 10-play cycle captures 100 years of African American life during each decade of the 20th century. Join us for an historic series in The Greene Space as an extraordinary cast of actors and directors — many who worked directly with Wilson — gather to make the first-ever recording of all ten plays.

The series runs from Monday, August 26, 2013 through September 28, 2013. Indira Etwaroo, Executive Producer, in partnership with the August Wilson Estate, led by Constanza Romero, Wilson's widow, will bring together many longtime Wilson collaborators and interpreters. They include 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; 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.

We'll also host a companion Talk Series, giving audiences a deeper look at Wilson's works and the historic relationships he formed with his artistic collaborators.

About the Plays
Wilson's 10-play cycle chronicles the African American experience in the 20th century with each play set in a different decade. The cycle begins in the early 1900s, when wounds from slavery and the Civil War were still fresh, and closes in the 1990s, when even a large and increasingly influential black middle class would not escape persistent racial tensions. Two of the plays, Fences and The Piano Lesson, were recognized with Pulitzer Prizes.

The Greene Space is pleased to receive philanthropic support for the series from the Ford Foundation, whose mission is to support visionary leaders on the frontlines of social change, and the Jerome Robbins Foundation, whose mission is to support dance, theater and their associative arts.

Accessing Recorded Readings
Video of all the readings will only be available during the live video webcasts. We're not able to archive the video for on-demand viewing, but look for selected plays to be broadcast on WNYC and public radio stations across the country beginning spring 2015. Audio of all 10 plays will also be available here on our website for on-demand streaming. View video excerpts and photo galleries of the readings here.  

The creative and technical team behind August Wilson American Century Cycle

Special permission for this project is provided by the Estate of August Wilson. For more information, please visit www.samuelfrench.com

August Wilson's American Century Cycle is presented, in part, with generous support from our signature sponsor: 






With special thanks to our cultural partners around the country:


And thanks to our August Wilson Century Cycle Ambassadors: NJPAC, Walker International Communications, African American Literature Book Club, Mosaic Magazine, The Network Journal, Experience Harlem, Go Girl Books, African Film Festival, African Voices, Precision Plus Communications, Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College.


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Comments [22]


To the August Wilson American Century Production Team,

Thank you for producing this series. I enjoyed seeing the live staged readings and listening to audio series this summer. Since the audio series is over, what is next? Will there any opportunity to revisit the work of August Wilson again in this format? --KC

Aug. 27 2015 05:10 PM
Greg from Bronx

PLEASE make these available for later viewing/archives, etc., even if temporarily. 7pm is a crappy start time for most working folks. This is such a brilliant series, want to check it out! I donated my time performing free at Greene Space one time. Please 'donate' these performances to lovers of the arts. Thank you.

Sep. 17 2013 11:01 AM
Carol Stanley from Houston Texas

I was in the process of viewing the "Piano Lesson" and the live feed dropped
I hate I did not see the end of the play. "Not to worry I know I will see it again. I love August Wilson's work and I am proud to say that my wonderful and very talented brother James Austin Williams has stared or performed in all of August Wilson's plays.

Sep. 09 2013 11:13 PM

I am in Pacific Time Zone. How do I listen to the webcasts? I don't want to miss any! Will they start at 4 pm PST? What link do I follow? It's been my dream to see all ten plays! Thank you so much!

Sep. 05 2013 11:36 PM
Liz Levey

I don't understand why you don't archive the video. I am not in the same time zone, and 7 pm is 2 am for me. I got up for Ma Rainey, but fell asleep. The next day I was able to access the play using YouTube. It was an incredible experience. I thought I could do the same for Fences, but it's not there. I am cross with myself...and unfortunately cross with you too.

Aug. 29 2013 06:43 AM
Felicia from Bronx, NY

I recently got the e-mail about this series and all tickets are sold out already!
I caught tonight's webcast but missed last night and may not be able to watch all the others live. Will they be available on You Tube for viewing after the live show?

Aug. 28 2013 09:27 PM
Mary Klein from Iowa Falls, Iowa

I am so grateful that you are doing this and hopefully, I will one day be able to listen to it all. I live way out in the country where internet (no matter what provider service) is iratic. It is particularly slow on downloading video broadcasts. It is now 10:30 EST and I just heard the last 3 pages of Ma Rainey. I also heard from the telling of the "soup and leftovers" to the end of the 1st Act. Since I recently read the play I could follow the lines. This performance put much more into it than I was able to get from reading. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I might have heard more if it came across as radio only without video.

Aug. 26 2013 10:51 PM
The Greene Space

We're so glad to hear that some of you were with us for "Their Eyes Were Watching God." We're approaching this project much the same way and are excited to have the recordings of August Wilson's work reach as many people as possible, from all walks of life. Aside from watching the live video webcasts, you'll also be able to hear select recordings on WNYC & other public radio stations beginning in 2014.

Stay tuned for more details here on our website.

Aug. 22 2013 05:27 PM
Marquis Bullock

Will these recordings be downloadable as the ones for the "Their Eyes Were Watching God" were?

Aug. 19 2013 09:27 AM
Sallie from NY, NY

Thank you for making the readings available via Live webcasts. I, like many missed an opportunity to purchase tickets. However I also know that the greene space is small, and an immediate sell out situation is expected. It would be great if an organization does something similiar to Project Shaw, where once a month a live reading is done of each play, and other writings.


Aug. 15 2013 08:59 PM
Trevor Nigel Lawrence from Oakland CA

Elitsim Elitism, here we go again . I am positively sure those tickets were made available based on nepotism. That is not who August Wilson was not the content or context of his work was aboout . Release the tickets to the general public. Have some integrity.

I am glad to see Keith David or David Keith involved .a fine actor and true proletarian. He stood on the street corner in Berkley CA and gave me acting concepts with generosity.I didn' howt even know him but was interested in and a student of the craft. I hope to make the September 9 performance but would have liked to do the September 16th on my birthday ,

Aug. 15 2013 06:51 PM
The Greene Space

We wish we had enough seats for everyone who wants to see these productions! The plays have indeed been selling out fast, but some aren't sold out yet - and all will be available for viewing as live webcasts right here on our website. To stay up on the latest news on our events, sign up for our email newsletter on the upper right-hand side of this page.

Aug. 14 2013 09:27 AM
Wayne Alexander from Fort Lauderdale, FL

You New Yorkers have all the fun. Any chance American Century Cycle might be mounted anywhere else, or put into some sort of video format for those of us who are not fortunate enough to live in or get to NYC?

Aug. 12 2013 11:04 AM
Margaret Grimes from New York City

We congratulate you for this great series. But might it not be possible to add some performances on the in-between dates? We too are wondering how some of the shows got sold out before we received any notice that the productions were coming up.

Aug. 10 2013 03:57 PM

I am very disappointed to find that tickets are already sold out. It is a waste of time to go down the list and see "sold out" each time. Why are these tickets sold out before we get this email notice?
Thank you.

Jul. 25 2013 04:17 PM
The Greene Space

Thanks for your questions! Yes, we will be hosting live webcasts of each reading right here on our website, but the video will not be archived after the event. WNYC 93.9 FM will broadcast select recordings on Sundays, beginning in January 2014.

Stay tuned for updates on the program here on our website!

Jul. 24 2013 03:34 PM
Mac from New York City

Are these audio recordings or video too?

Jul. 21 2013 08:32 PM
sue rock from Brooklyn, NY

As Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is already sold out - where will these performances be broadcast (or sold) - WNYC? WQXR?

Thank you greatly and congratulations!

Jul. 21 2013 02:52 PM
The Greene Space

Thanks for your interest in August Wilson's American Century Cycle! As of right now, we have no discount packages available but will be sure to update the site and our social media channels if we do! Hope to see you at the recordings!

Jul. 12 2013 11:22 AM
Jeffrey Sweet from NY

I'm writing a book with an extensive chapter on August Wilson and Lloyd Richards. Who's the press rep?

Jul. 11 2013 01:11 AM

Is there any discount for sustaining members?

Jul. 02 2013 10:27 AM
Troy Fischer from NYC

re: American Century Cycle - August Wilson. I would like to attend all ten readings, would you offer an "all for one" pricing?

Jul. 01 2013 03:40 PM

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