Trinity Rep Presents August Wilson’s Radio Golf
The tenth of the legendary playwright’s American Century Cycle January 31 – March 1
Providence, RI: Trinity Rep continues its 2019-20 Season with the final play from American theatrical legend August Wilson – Radio Golf. Directed by resident acting company member Jude Sandy, the show features resident acting company member Joe Wilson, Jr., as Harmond Wilks, a man determined to revive his childhood neighborhood without considering the emotional cost. Both moving and funny, Radio Golf is the culmination of August Wilson’s ten-play American Century Cycle chronicling each decade of African-American life in the twentieth century. Radio Golf runs January 31 – March 1, with press opening on Monday, February 3 at 7:30 pm. Tickets start at $27. More information can be found at www.TrinityRep.com/radiogolf.
August Wilson authored Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II, and Radio Golf. These works explore the heritage and experience of African Americans, decade by decade, over the course of the twentieth century and have been dubbed “The American Century Cycle.”
Trinity Rep produced four of August Wilson’s American Century Cycle plays before, Radio Golf is the fifth. In the 1987-88 Season, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was produced, featuring then-resident company member Barbara Meek as Ma Rainey and Ricardo Pitts-Wiley as Levee. Joe Turner’s Come and Gone was produced as part of the 1988-89 Season, with Academy Award-winning actor Viola Davis as Mattie Campbell and Barbara Meek as Bertha Holly. Fences was produced in the 1991-92 Season with Barbara Meek as Rose and Ricardo Pitts-Wiley as Jim. The most recent Trinity Rep production of August Wilson was the 2000-01 Season’s The Piano Lesson with Ricardo Pitts-Wiley as Doaker and former resident company member Rose Weaver as Berniece.
August Wilson’s plays have been produced at regional theaters across the country and all over the world, as well as on Broadway. Wilson garnered many awards, including a Pulitzer Prize for Fences and The Piano Lesson, as well as two Tony Awards (Fences), and multiple New York Drama Critics Circle awards. He is the recipient of a National Humanities Medal and has been inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. Fences was adapted into a 2016 film of the same name featuring former Trinity Rep actor Viola Davis, who won an Academy Award for her performance, and Denzel Washington, reviving the roles they played on Broadway. A film of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, also featuring Viola Davis in the role of Ma Rainey, is planned for 2020.
About Radio Golf
Real estate developer and entrepreneur Harmond Wilks is determined to become the first Black mayor of Pittsburgh and is on a mission to revive his blighted childhood neighborhood. As Wilks confronts the past, he is forced to question how pursuing change could put his neighborhood’s history at risk.
Director Jude Sandy said of Radio Golf “August Wilson is one of American’s great literary figures. He trained his lens on subjects of African-American life and on the vast humanity of African-American people with a clarity and devotion that illuminates what is vital in African-American culture and what is universally human in us all. To see August Wilson’s plays is to know America in an indispensable way, at times both glorious and heart-wrenching, and always captivating in the rhythm, humor, and poetry he finds in everyday people and everyday life. Radio Golf is Wilson's last play; these are the last words we have from one of America’s great playwrights. He was battling terminal liver cancer as he finished this play, and it is no surprise that Radio Golf has powerful strains of the prophetic and the elegiac, all rooted in real human dilemmas and a deep African-American spirituality.”
Curt Columbus, The Arthur P. Solomon and Sally E. Lapides artistic director said, “I am beyond excited to see this production, because it brings the powerful, haunting, and beautiful voice of August Wilson back to Trinity Rep after many years of absence. He is one of the most important American playwrights of the last fifty years, someone who writes exquisitely crafted plays, yet someone who simultaneously challenges how we see the world and the American experience through the medium of theater.”
Cast and Creative Team
Jude Sandy returns to the role of director after following the highly-lauded 2018-19 Season production of Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey. A resident acting company member since 2016, Sandy most recently appeared in 2019’s A Christmas Carol as Ebenezer Scrooge, which was the second-ever highest selling show in Trinity Rep’s history. Prior to that, he received great accolades for his work as Seymour in the 2018-19 Season’s Little Shop of Horrors. Sandy has also appeared on Broadway, off-Broadway, and is a graduate of the Brown/Trinity Rep MFA program. His acting credits at Trinity Rep include Othello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Oklahoma!, To Kill a Mockingbird, Blues for Mister Charlie.
Sandy will be working alongside Michael McGarty and Baron E. Pugh (set design), Yao Chen (costume design), Amith Chandrashaker (lighting design), and Larry D. Fowler, Jr. (sound design).
The cast of this production features resident company member Joe Wilson, Jr. as Harmond Wilks. Wilson, Jr. has been a resident acting company member for 16 seasons. His acting credits include The Song of Summer (2018-19 Season), A Christmas Carol as Ebenezer Scrooge (2017-18 Season), The Mountaintop (2016-17 Season), The Grapes of Wrath (2013-14 Season), Cabaret (2009-10 Season), and Topdog/Underdog (2004-05 Season.) Wilson Jr. was co-director of last season’s black odyssey, where he was also featured as Ulysses Lincoln.
Ricardo Pitts-Wiley returns to Trinity Rep to play Elder Joseph Barlow. Since first becoming an acting fellow in 1974, Pitts-Wiley has been featured in many productions at Trinity Rep, including August Wilson’s Fences, The Piano Lesson, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. His last performance with Trinity Rep was 2001’s The Cider House Rules directed by Oskar Eustis. In 2017 Ricardo Pitts-Wiley was awarded the Rhode Island Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts by Trinity Rep. He is co-founder of Mixed Magic Theatre in Providence.
Radio Golf will also feature guest artists Tonia Jackson as Mame Wilks. Guest artists Dereks Thomas will play Sterling Johnson, and Omar Robinson will play Roosevelt Hicks. Robinson was last seen at Trinity Rep as Paw Sidin in 2018-19’s black odyssey.
Community Partnerships and Special Events for Radio Golf
Continuing Trinity Rep’s tradition of offering affordable tickets for all, the theater will have discounted previews of Radio Golf. Thursday, January 30 is a Pay What You Can performance. Pay What You Can tickets go on sale at 6:30 pm that evening, and are limited to one per person.
Other special performances for Radio Golf include an Open Captioned performance for the show on Sunday, February 2 at 2:00 pm and Wednesday, February 12 at 2:00 and 7:30 pm. The Next Generation Night will be held on Thursday, February 6, and includes a special event for the next generation of theater-goers. The Teens Talk performance will be held on Friday, February 7, which features Trinity Rep’s Teen Ambassadors discussing their perspective on the show following the 7:30 performance.
A Context & Conversation panel discussion will be held in partnership with Providence Public Library on Monday, February 10 at 6:00 pm at West Elmwood Housing Development at 224 Dexter Street in Providence. At this free event, panelists from the community will examine the good – and bad – of changing neighborhoods. Christina Bevilacqua, Trinity Rep’s conversationalist-in-residence and programs and exhibitions director at Providence Public Library will moderate the discussion.
The Trinity Rep Book Club will meet on February 20, 2020, at 7:00 pm at Symposium Books on Westminster St. in Providence. This book club meets for select plays to discuss a piece of literature inspired by the show on stage at Trinity Rep. For Radio Golf, the club will read How I Learned What I Learned, an autobiographical play by August Wilson. Books are available to purchase through Symposium Books.
On March 1, 2020, Trinity Rep Director of Community Engagement Michelle Cruz will lead a Sunday Dinner which will celebrate African-American tradition, music, and history – and the work of August Wilson. At 6:00 pm, following the closing performance of Radio Golf, attendees will meet for a curated dinner featuring food from Black farmers from Pittsburgh and New England, while discussing August Wilson and Radio Golf. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Find out more at www.trinityrep.com/radiogolf.
The 2019-20 Season Sponsors are Ocean State Job Lot and Rhode Island Council on the Arts. The 2019-20 Season supporting sponsor is The Providence Tourism Council. Southwest Airlines is the official airline of Trinity Rep.
Trinity Repertory Company
Rhode Island’s Tony Award-winning theater, Trinity Rep has created unparalleled professional theater for and with its community since its founding in 1963. Trinity Rep strives to facilitate human connection and has been a driving force behind the creativity that fuels and defines the region for more than 50 years.
Trinity Rep is committed to reinventing the public square and inspiring dialogue by creating emotionally-stimulating live productions that range from classical to contemporary and innovative education programs for all ages and abilities. Its annual production of A Christmas Carol has brought families together for more than four decades and made memories for over a million audience members.
Subscriptions and single tickets are now on sale for the 2019-20 Season, which included the world-premiere of The Prince of Providence by George Brant, based on the book The Prince of Providence by Mike Stanton; with Fade by Tanya Saracho; and continues with August Wilson’s Radio Golf; A Tale of Two Cities by Brian McEleney, based on the novel by Charles Dickens; Sweat by Lynn Nottage; and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler.
For more information on our 2019-20 Season, call the box office at (401) 351-4242 or visit Trinity Rep's website at www.TrinityRep.com.