August Wilson’s Seven Guitars

MARIN THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS AUGUST WILSON’S SEVEN GUITARS

BLUES-INFUSED MYSTERY PLAY FEATURES BAY AREA VETERAN ACTORS L. PETER CALLENDER AND MARGO HALL; KENT GASH DIRECTS

August 11-September 4, 2011 | Opening Night, August 16

MILL VALLEY, CA—Marin Theatre Company opens its 45th Anniversary Season with August Wilson’s Seven Guitars, which runs August 11 through September 4. Kent Gash, former company member at American Conservatory Theater and current director of the New Studio on Broadway (Tisch School of the Arts at NYU), directs a cast led by L. Peter Callender and Margo Hall in this award-winning modern classic that overflows with music, mystery and humor. Opening night is on Tuesday, August 16.

“I cannot think of a better way to kick off our 45th Anniversary Season than with the company’s first staging of an August Wilson play,” says MTC artistic director Jasson Minadakis. “Seven Guitars is a thrilling mystery play with amazing blues music laced throughout. I am delighted to welcome one of my longtime collaborators, Kent Gash, back to the Bay Area to bring this masterpiece to life.”

Seven Guitars is Wilson’s 1940s entry into his remarkable Pittsburgh Cycle (also known as his Century Cycle), a decade-by-decade exploration of the African-American experience in the 20th century. Premiering in January 1995 at the Goodman Theater in Chicago, the play moved to the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston and American Conservatory Theater [A.C.T.] in San Francisco before opening on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre in March 1996. After the New York run, Seven Guitars was awarded Best Play in 1996 by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle and nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Drama Desk Award for Best Play and Tony Award for Best Play.

The tragic comedy follows the short-lived comeback of bluesman Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton. Released from a workhouse to find he has a hit record, he becomes the pivotal figure that the lives of six others come to briefly revolve around in the impoverished Hill District during the summer of 1948. “Riveting… Wilson’s mastery of time and character has never been more apparent” (Boston Globe). “Seven Guitars is as funny as it is moving and lyrical” (The New York Times). This is MTC’s first production of a play by Wilson, whom Variety described as having “the rare gift for imbuing everyday people, their conversations and stories with epic resonance.”

Guest director Kent Gash is the director of New Studio on Broadway, a professional theater-training studio specializing in musical theater and acting offered through the Undergraduate Department of Drama at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. Gash is the former associate artistic director of the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, where he previously directed two of Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle plays: Radio Golf and King Hedley II. In the early 1990s, Gash was a company member and faculty member at A.C.T., where he won the Claire Luce Award for his role in Miss Ever’s Boys.

L. Peter Callender, artistic director of San Francisco’s African-American Shakespeare Company, returns to MTC in his first role since starring in the critically acclaimed audience-favorite My Children! My Africa! (January 2009). He is joined by two other Bay area veterans making their debuts on MTC’s stage: Margo Hall, the Glickman Award-winning playwright and founding member of Campo Santo, and Charles Branklyn, who has performed in nine different productions of Wilson’s ten-play Pittsburgh Cycle. Also making their debuts at MTC are New York actor Marc Damon Johnson, who has appeared in the Bay Area at Berkeley Rep, and three recent A.C.T. MFA graduates: Omoze Idehenre, who is now a core company member at A.C.T., Tobie Windham and Shinelle Azoroh.

 

FACTS & CALENDAR INFORMATION

WHAT
Marin Theatre Company presents SEVEN GUITARS

WHO
By August Wilson | Directed by Kent Gash
Featuring Shinelle Azoroh,* Charles Branklyn,* L. Peter Callender,* Margo Hall,* Omoze Idehenre,* Marc Damon Johnson,* Tobie L. Windham*
* - Member, Actor’s Equity Association

WHEN
August 11 – September 4, 2011
Opening Night: August 16 | Previews: August 11-14

Performance Days
Tue, Thu, Fri & Sat 8:00 pm
Wed 7:30 pm
Sun 7:00 pm
Matinees: Thu 8/25, 1:00 pm | Sat 8/20 & 9/3, 2:00 pm | Every Sun 2:00 pm

Check marintheatre.org or call the box office at (415) 388-5208 for exact performance dates and times.

WHERE
Marin Theatre Company | 397 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley, CA 94941

ABOUT
Prepare to be bewitched by August Wilson’s lyrical 1940s entry into his Pittsburgh Cycle, a remarkable decade-by-decade exploration of the African-American experience in the 20th century. Kent Gash, director of the musical theatre and acting studio at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, directs this moving epic that finds abundant spirit in the everyday and overflows with music, mystery and humor.

Released from the workhouse, Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton returns to the Hill District to discover that he has a hit record! Even though the bluesman does not have two nickels to rub together, nothing is going to stop him from taking advantage of this opportunity… until he is found dead. Schoolboy’s story becomes the bass line to the many melodies – lively, menacing, brooding – that rise from this vibrant community.

TICKETS
$34–$55, details below (discounts available for Seniors and Under 30)

Ticket Prices
Previews: $34 all
Opening Night & Sat Evenings: $50 side | $55 center
Tues: $34 | $38
Wed, Thu, Sun Evenings & Matinees: $39 | $44
Fri: $45 | $50

Discounts available:
RUSH tickets: $15, available one hour prior to show, based on availability
Under 30: $20, all performances
Senior discounts: varies by performance, please call
For group sales, contact Julie Knight, (415) 388-5200, ext. 3302

ENGAGE
“MTC Engaged” invites patrons to join MTC’s artistic staff, designers and casts in conversation. A member of MTC’s artistic staff (often with one or more members of the cast) hosts a Q&A talk-back after every performance, except on Saturday evenings, Opening or Closing Nights.

MTC Engaged Special Events:
After Words – post-show interview with special guest: Sun 8/14, 2:00 p.m.
Director’s Night – post-show conversation with director: Wed 8/17 & 8/31
Perspectives – pre-show topical lecture: Thu 8/25, 12:00 p.m.

ACCESS
“MTC All Access” strives to make theatre accessible to all audiences. For seeing impaired patrons, Large Print playbills are available at the box office at all performances, Digital playbills that are compatible with screen reader software are available online starting one week before the first performance of a production, and Braille playbills are available with two-weeks advance notice through partnership with LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. To request a Braille playbill, call MTC’s Box Office, (415) 388-5208, or use the California Telecommunications Relay Service by dialing “711.” For hearing impaired patrons, amplified sound Listening Devices are available.

CONTACT    www.marintheatre.org | (415) 388-5208 | boxoffice@marintheatre.org

 

ARTIST BIOGRAPHIES

August Wilson (Playwright) authored Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (New York Drama Critics Circle Award), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (NYDCC Award), The Piano Lesson (Pulitzer Prize and NYDCC Award), Seven Guitars (NYDCC Award), Fences (Pulitzer Prize, Tony and NYDCC Awards), Two Trains Running (NYDCC Award), Jitney (Olivier and NYDCC Awards), King Hedley II and Radio Golf. These works explore the heritage and experience of African-Americans, decade by decade, over the course of the 20th century. His plays have been produced at regional theaters across the country and all over the world, as well as on Broadway. In 2003, Wilson made his professional stage debut in his one-man show, How I Learned What I Learned. He received an Emmy Award nomination for his screenplay adaptation of The Piano Lesson. His early works included the one-act plays The Janitor, Recycle, The Coldest Day of the Year, Malcolm X, The Homecoming and the musical satire Black Bart and the Sacred Hills. Wilson received many fellowships and awards, including Rockefeller and Guggenheim Fellowships in Playwriting, the Whiting Writers Award, Heinz Award and the National Humanities Medal. Following his death in October 2005, the Broadway theater located at 245 West 52nd Street was renamed the August Wilson Theatre.

Kent Gash (Director) is the director of the New Studio on Broadway at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, where he has directed Assassins and The Who’s Tommy.  He is co-author and director of Langston in Harlem, which won the 2010 Audelco Award for best musical. Gash is the former associate artistic director of the Alliance Theatre, where he directed and choreographed 26 Miles (world premiere), Radio Golf, Sophisticated Ladies,  (Suzi Bass Award for best choreography) Sleuth, Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue, Jelly’s Last Jam (Suzi Bass Awards for best musical, director and choreography) Tick, Tick… Boom, Five Guys Named Moe, Topdog/Underdog (co-production with Trinity Repertory Company and New Rep; Elliot Norton Award for best director) King Hedley II, Shakespeare’s R& J and Pacific Overtures (co-production with Cincinnati Playhouse and North Shore Music Theatre; Atlanta Journal Constitution’s “Best Show of the Year,” Elliot Norton Award for best musical and Independent Reviewers of New England Awards for best musical and best director of a musical). Regionally, Gash has directed over fifty productions with Actors Express and True Colors in Atlanta, Cleveland Playhouse, Denver Center Theatre Company, the McCarter IN-Festival, Intiman Theatre in Seattle, Arizona Theatre Company, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Hartford Stage, Maltz-Jupiter Theatre and Shakespeare Santa Cruz. Gash also served as associate artistic director of Alabama Shakespeare Festival. His other New York credits include Miss Ever’s Boys (NYC premiere) at Melting Pot Theatre Company, Call the Children Home at Primary Stages (world premiere), Beggar’s Holiday and the first off-Broadway revival of Home. Gash spent 20 years as an accomplished actor, including time as a company member at A.C.T., where he won the Claire Luce Award for Miss Ever’s Boys and directed first year MFA students.

L. Peter Callender (Red Carter) has appeared at MTC in My Children! My Africa! He is currently the artistic director of African-American Shakespeare Company in San Francisco and an associate artist at Cal Shakes, where he has acted in over 20 productions. Other Bay Area credits include roles at A.C.T., Berkeley Rep, Brava! for Women in the Arts, Magic Theatre, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Aurora Theatre, Diablo Actors Ensemble, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, TheatreWorks and San Francisco Symphony. In New York, Callender appeared on Broadway in Prelude to a Kiss and in Julie Taymor’s The Tempest at Classic Stage Company, as well as in roles at the Manhattan Theater Club, New York Shakespeare Festival and Circle Rep. Other regional theater credits include Arena Stage, The Rep in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh Public, Cincinnati Playhouse, Syracuse Stage and Pennsylvania Stage Company. He appeared in the films Sweet November, Dr. Doolittle and The Kite Runner.

Margo Hall (Louise) makes her MTC debut in Seven Guitars. Her recent Bay Area credits include Nobody Move at Intersection for the Arts, Fabulation for Lorraine Hansberry Theatre [LHT], Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet at A.C.T. and Trouble in Mind at Aurora Theatre. Hall is a founding member of Campo Santo, a resident theater company at Intersection for the Arts, where she has acted in over 10 productions, including plays by Chinaka Hodges, Jessica Hagedorn, Naomi Iizuka, Philip Gotanda, Jose Rivera, Octavio Solis and Erin Cressida Wilson. She recently directed a co-production of The Story by Tracey Scott Wilson for SF Playhouse and LHT and Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin for Word for Word, which premiered at LHT before touring France. In 2005, her Will Glickman Award-winning play The People’s Temple (co-authored by Leigh Fondakowski, Grey Pierrotti and Stephen Wangh) premiered at Berkeley Rep. She has also performed for Arena Stage, Olney Theater and Source Theater in Washington, D.C., the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, and locally at Berkeley Rep, Magic Theatre and Brava! for Women in the Arts.

Charles Branklyn (Hedley) makes his MTC debut in Seven Guitars. He most recently appeared in Twelfth Night at the African-American Shakespeare Company and acted in the independent film The Tenderloin (Fakefoot Productions). Since appearing in August Wilson’s Fences at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, he has performed in nine different productions of the playwright’s ten-play Pittsburgh Cycle. Branklyn received a Drama-Logue Award for his role as Johnnie in River Niger and a San Francisco Bay Area Critics Circle Award for Turnbo in Jitney, both at Lorraine Hansberry Theatre. He made his professional debut in Gospel of Colonus at A.C.T.

Marc Damon Johnson (Canewell) makes his MTC debut in Seven Guitars. His Bay Area credits include Mother Courage and Polk County at Berkeley Rep. His New York and international theater credits include The Brother/Sister Plays (Obie Award and Drama League nominee) and The Poor Itch at Public Theater, The Brothers Size at Abbey Theatre in Dublin, Ireland, Mr. Fox: A Rumination at Signature Theatre (Drama League nominee), A Civil War Christmas at Long Wharf, Measure For Measure and Two Gentlemen Of Verona at New York Shakespeare Festival. He has also performed at La Jolla Playhouse, Arena Stage, McCarter Theater and the Acting Company. Johnson has appeared in numerous television shows and films, including Army Wives, Rescue Me, The Sopranos, Third Watch, Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Preaching to the Choir, It Runs in the Family, Grace & Glorie and Woody Allen’s Sweet and Lowdown.

Tobie Windham (Floyd Barton) makes his MTC debut in Seven Guitars. He most recently appeared in Lanford Wilson’s Balm in Gilead in New York. Other credits include The Lily’s Revenge, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Brother’s Size (San Francisco Bay Area Critics Circle nominee for best actor), Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet, The Pastures of Heaven and Two Real Coons. He has performed at A.C.T., South Coast Repertory, Magic Theatre, Cal Shakes, City Equity Theater, South City Theater Company and Birmingham Park Players. Windham earned his BA in theater from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and is a graduate of A.C.T.’s MFA program. He is a founding artistic member of Renovation Theater Company.

Omoze Idehenre (Vera) makes her MTC debut in Seven Guitars. In the Bay Area, she has appeared in The Caucasian Chalk Circle, ScapinMarcus; Or The Secret of Sweet and Clybourne Park at A.C.T, Macbeth at Cal Shakes and Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter at TheaterFIRST. She has also appeared in the film On the Road directed by Walter Salles. Idehenre graduated from A.C.T.’s MFA program in 2010 and is now a core company member.

Shinelle Azoroh (Ruby) makes her MTC debut in Seven Guitars. She is a recent graduate of A.C.T.’s MFA program, where her mainstage credits include Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet and A Christmas Carol. She was most recently seen in the A.C.T. MFA production of As You Like It. Her other MFA performance credits include Hotel Paradiso and Once in a Lifetime. Azoroh received her BA in Theater from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where her performance credits include In the Blood for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Intimate Apparel and August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson. Azoroh is a founding artistic member of Renovation Theater Company, which most recently produced her one-woman show, Cinnamon.

 

ABOUT MTC
Celebrating our 45th Anniversary this season, Marin Theatre Company is the Bay Area’s premier mid-sized theater and the leading professional theater in the North Bay. We produce a six-show season of provocative plays by passionate playwrights from the 20th century and today in our intimate a 231-seat proscenium theater. We are committed to the development and production of new plays by American playwrights, with a comprehensive New Play Program that includes at least one world premiere each season, two nationally recognized annual playwriting awards, new play readings and workshops by the nation’s best emerging playwrights and a leadership position in the National New Play Network. Our numerous educational programs serve more than 6,000 students each year.

 

PRESS CONTACT
Sasha Hnatkovich, Communications Director
(415) 388-5200, ext. 3313 | email

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