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By August Wilson | Directed by Daniel Alexander Jones

“Bold, exciting and engrossing” –Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle

“A gem… See it.” –Pamela Feinsilber, Huffington Post

“Actors of the highest quality.” –Charles Brousse, Pacific Sun

“Illuminating, devastating and beautiful.” –David Templeton, Bohemian ★★★★½

“Sensational.” –Theatre Eddys ★★★★★

Set in 1904 Pittsburgh, Gem of the Ocean begins August Wilson’s ten-play century cycle dramatizing the African American experience during the 20th century - an unprecedented series that includes the Pulitzer Prize winning Fences and The Piano Lesson.

Aunt Esther, a fiery 285-year-old matriarch, welcomes into her Hill District home Solly Two Kings, who was born into slavery and scouted for the Union Army, and Citizen Barlow, a young man from Alabama searching for a new life.

Bay Area sensation Margo Hall returns to August Wilson’s Century Cycle in the role of Aunt Esther following her TBA award-winning portrayal of Rose in MTC’s 2014’s Fences and 2011’s Seven Guitars.

Go to the beginning of August Wilson's epic Century Cycle: when slavery was still a recent memory and the notion of freedom precarious. Gem follows MTC's award-winning productions of Wilson's Fences (1950s) and Seven Guitars (1940s).

Featuring Margo Hall, Omoze Idehenre, Patrick Kelly Jones, David Everett Moore, Namir Smallwood, Juney Smith and Tyee J. Tilghman

CONTENT ADVISORY: This production contains language and adult content. Please contact our Box Office with any questions you have about the suitability of this show for young audiences.

LENGTH OF SHOW: approximately 2 hours 25 minutes with one 15 minute intermission.

TICKET PRICES: $20 - $47. All prices subject to change without notice.


August Wilson (April 27, 1945 – October 2, 2005) 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. His plays have been produced at regional theaters across the country and all over the world, as well as on Broadway. In 2003, Mr. Wilson made his professional stage debut in his one-man show, How I Learned What I Learned. Mr. Wilson’s works garnered many awards including Pulitzer Prizes for Fences (1987); and for The Piano Lesson (1990); a Tony Award for Fences; Great Britain’s Olivier Award for Jitney; as well as eight New York Drama Critics Circle Awards for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Fences, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running, Seven Guitars, Jitney, and Radio Golf. Additionally, the cast recording of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom received a 1985 Grammy Award, and Mr. Wilson received a 1995 Emmy Award nomination for his screenplay adaptation of The Piano Lesson. Mr. Wilson’s 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.

Performance Schedule


Tue - Sun 7:30pm


Sun (Preview) Jan 17, 4:00pm

Thu (Perspectives) Jan 28, 1:00pm

Sat, Jan 23, Feb 6 & Feb 13, 2:00pm

Sun Jan 24, 31, Feb 7 & Feb 14, 2:00pm

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Ticket Prices

Performance Center
Previews (Jan 14 - 17) $35 $35
Opening Night (Jan 19) $58 $53
Tue*, Wed, Thu $47 $42
Fri Eve $47 $42
Sat Eve $47 $42
Sun Eve & all Matinees $47 $42
Best Deal (all shows, limited availability) n/a $25

* Excludes Opening Night.

Prices subject to change. Phone orders subject to a $10 per order fee; online orders subject to a $3 per order fee. 

Disabled seating is currently only available through the MTC Box Office (415.388.5208 or in person). We apologize for any inconvenience.

The Perspectives matinees feature open captioning assistance for patrons who are hearing or vision impaired at no extra charge, and occur on the third Thursday of every performance run (check the calendar above for the exact date for each show). For more information about our open captioned performances, please contact the MTC Box Office by calling 415.388.5208, emailing, or visiting in person.

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GROUPS – Bring eight or more people to receive a substantial discount on tickets. Click here or call 415.388.5208.

SENIORS (65+) – $4 off any performances

UNDER 30 – $20, all performances

TEENS – $10, all performances

TEACHER – $10, all performances (limit 2). Must teach at a Marin County School. Contact the Education Dept. to request.

MILITARY – $5 off all performances. Learn more

Discount tickets are only available through the MTC Box Office (415.388.5208 or in person), unless stated otherwise.

MTC Engaged Special Events



After Most Shows

Join a member of our artistic staff (often with one or more members of the cast) for a Q&A discussion after every performance, except on Saturday evenings, and Opening and Closing Nights.



Thu, Jan 28 | 12 noon

Before our weekday matinee, bring a brown bag lunch and listen to an informal pre-show talk by a member of our artistic staff.



Jan 30 | 10:30pm

After the performance join us at the MTC bar for jazz, drink specials, and camaraderie. MTC After Hour features the musical stylings of Full Mood Swing and is a low-key way to mix with fellow audience members, the cast, crew, and whoever else might stop by. A great way to continue the conversation after the curtain goes down!

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  • Margo Hall*

    Margo Hall*

    Aunt Ester

    Margo Hall (Aunt Ester) previously appeared at MTC in and . Her recent credits include , , and at California Shakespeare Theater. , and and at the American Conservatory Theater. Alice Childresses' at the Aurora Theater. Marcus Gardley’s , for Shotgun Players. Her acting credits for Campo Santo include Chinaka Hodges' , Jessica Hagedorn's and and Naomi Iizuka’s and , , a world premier by Philip Gotanda, , by Jose Rivera, and by Octavio Solis. Other credits include (written and performed by Ms. Hall) featuring the Marcus Shelby 15 piece Orchestra, and at Berkeley Repertory Theater, which won the Glickman award for best new play in the Bay Area for 2005. She was a writer and part of the acting ensemble.

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  • Omoze Idehenre*

    Omoze Idehenre*

    Black Mary

    Omoze Idehenre (Black Mary) has appeared at MTC in The Convert and Seven Guitars. Her regional credits include The Comedy of Errors and Richard III at Oregon Shakespeare Festival; The Winter’s Tale, Spunk and Macbeth at Cal Shakes; A Doll’s House, Elektra, Scorched, Clybourne Park, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Scapin and Marcus: Or the Secret of Sweet at A.C.T.; and Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter at Theater First in Oakland. She also appeared in the films On the Road and Woman. Idehenre received an MFA in acting from A.C.T. and a BFA from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

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  • Patrick Kelly Jones*

    Patrick Kelly Jones*

    Rutherford Selig

    Patrick Kelly Jones (Rutherford Selig) has performed with Marin Theater Company in , and as well as two theater for young audience shows and several readings and workshops. His recent credits include (California Shakespeare Theater), (Aurora Theater), (Magic Theater), and(TheaterWorks). Other select regional credits include: and (New York Classical Theatre),(The 52nd Street Project, NYC), (Denver Center for the Performing Arts), (Florida Studio Theatre), (Great Lakes Theater), (Cleveland Play House). Mr. Jones earned his MFA in Acting from Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House.

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  • David Everett Moore*

    David Everett Moore*


    David Everett Moore (Eli) is a Bay Area performer and educator making his MTC debut. Local credits include We Are Proud To Present at Just Theater; Topdog/Underdog at 6th Street Playhouse; Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and Tartuffe at African-American Shakespeare Company; Good Goods at Crowded Fire Theater; and Taming of the Shrew and Romeo and Juliet at San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, where David is a Resident Artist. Regional credits include Our Town, Taming of the Shrew, King Lear and Much Ado About Nothing at Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Mr. Moore earned a BA in Theater and Performance Studies from UC Berkeley.

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  • Namir Smallwood*

    Namir Smallwood*

    Citizen Barlow

    Namir Smallwood (Citizen Barlow) is pleased to be making his Marin Theatre Company debut. Most recently, he originated the role of Beta in Philip Dawkins' Charm. Other Chicago theatre credits include Victory Gardens, Steppenwolf and the Goodman. Regional credits include the Guthrie Theater, Pillsbury House Theatre, Ten Thousand Things, and Penumbra Theatre. He has also made appearances on NBC's Chicago Fire and ABC's Betrayal.

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  • Juney Smith*

    Juney Smith*

    Solly Two Kings

    Juney Smith (Solly Two Kings) is a native New Yorker and graduate of Long Island University. Mr. Smith regional theatre credits include: Cheaters, A Soldier’s Play, Medea and The Doll, The Sirens, Ceremonies in Dark Old Men, The Mighty Gents, A Raisin in the Sun, The Odd Couple, Same Time, Next Year, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Owl Killer. His numerous film and television acting credits include co-Starring in the comedy classic Good Morning, Vietnam as Phil McPherson, the engineer and the action classic Lethal Weapon 2 as Detective Tom Wyler. Mr. Smith’s also is co-Starring in the recently released film Friends and Romans as Chief. Guest starring and recurring roles on Blue Bloods, NYC 22, ER, Dr.Quinn, Medicine Woman, Growing Pains, Matlock, Law & Order, Hard Time on Planet Earth, Highway to Heaven, T.J. Hooker, Hill Street Blues, M.A.S.H., ED McBain’s 87th Pct, A Doctor Story, and The White Shadow.

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  • Tyee J. Tilghman*

    Tyee J. Tilghman*

    Caesar Wilks

    Tyee Tilghman (Caesar Wilks) previously appeared as Lyons at MTC in August Wilson's Fences. TV and Film credits: (Det. Davenport); Dr. Marcoli); Record Store Employee). Select Bay Area credits: Magic Theatre PEN/MAN/SHIP (Cecil); The Winter"s Tale (Florizel/Camillo); Lady Windermere's Fan (Hopper); American Night (Ben Pettus); California Shakespeare Theater Spunk (Jelly/Slemmons); Select regional credits: The Three Sisters (Solyony); Chautauqua Theater Co Love's Labours Lost (Longaville); Arena Stage An American Daughter (Jimmy); Folger Theater Romeo & Juliet (Friar John/Tybalt); Denver Center Theater Co A Raisin in the Sun (George Murchison); Eurydice (Orpheus); Take Me Out (Darren); Curious Theatre Co Yellowman (Eugene). Tyee would like to thank his future wife, Shaina Gonzales, his family, and his friends for their continued support. Tyee is a graduate of the American Conservatory Theater MFA Acting Program, and a current member of the LUNGSChq Team (

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Creative Team

  • August Wilson

    August Wilson


    August Wilson (April 27, 1945 – October 2, 2005) 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. His plays have been produced at regional theaters across the country and all over the world, as well as on Broadway. In 2003, Mr. Wilson made his professional stage debut in his one-man show, How I Learned What I Learned. Mr. Wilson’s works garnered many awards including Pulitzer Prizes for Fences (1987); and for The Piano Lesson (1990); a Tony Award for Fences; Great Britain’s Olivier Award for Jitney; as well as eight New York Drama Critics Circle Awards for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Fences, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running, Seven Guitars, Jitney, and Radio Golf. Additionally, the cast recording of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom received a 1985 Grammy Award, and Mr. Wilson received a 1995 Emmy Award nomination for his screenplay adaptation of The Piano Lesson. Mr. Wilson’s 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.

    Mr. Wilson received many fellowships and awards, including Rockefeller and Guggenheim Fellowships in Playwrighting, the Whiting Writers Award, 2003 Heinz Award, was awarded a 1999 National Humanities Medal by the President of the United States, and received numerous honorary degrees from colleges and universities, as well as the only high school diploma ever issued by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. He was an alumnus of New Dramatists, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a 1995 inductee into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and on October 16, 2005, Broadway renamed the theater located at 245 West 52nd Street - The August Wilson Theatre. Additionally, Mr. Wilson was posthumously inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2007.

    Mr. Wilson was born and raised in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and lived in Seattle, Washington at the time of his death. He is immediately survived by his two daughters, Sakina Ansari and Azula Carmen Wilson, and his wife, costume designer Constanza Romero.

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  • Daniel Alexander Jones

    Daniel Alexander Jones


    Daniel Alexander Jones (director) has created a dynamic body of work across disciplines for over twenty years. His acclaimed performances as his alter ego, Jomama Jones, include Radiate (Soho Rep, and subsequent national tour), Black Light (Joe’s Pub), and Night Flowers (JACK). Daniel’s plays and performance pieces include Blood:Shock:Boogie, Phoenix Fabrik, Bel Canto, and the, multi-year project, The Book of Daniel. He directed world premiere productions of pieces by Dr. E. Patrick Johnson, Erik Ehn, Shay Youngblood and Renita Martin, among others. Daniel received the highly prestigious Doris Duke Artist Award and the Alpert Award in Theatre. He was an inaugural Creative Capital Artist; the MAP Fund, the Jerome Foundation, and McKnight Foundation, among others, have supported his work. Daniel was a Resident Playwright with New Dramatists, and a Core Member of the Playwrights’ Center. He heads the Playwriting track at Fordham University, where he is an Associate Professor of Theatre. Daniel lives in NYC.

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  • Sean McStravick

    Sean McStravick

    Stage Manager

    Sean McStravick (stage manager) has previously stage managed MTC’s productions of My Mañana Comes, The Oldest Boy, Choir Boy, The Convert, The Whale, Fetch Clay, Make Man and Good People. He has worked for numerous Bay Area theaters including Shotgun Players, 42nd Street Moon and Willows Theatre Company, where he was the production stage manager from 2010 to 2012. Regionally, he has also supported productions at North Coast Repertory Theatre, Blue Trunk Theatre Company, Back Seat Theatre, the Reduced Shakespeare Company and Actors Alliance of San Diego. He is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.

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  • Kimberlee Koym-Murteira

    Kimberlee Koym-Murteira

    Scenic Designer

    Kimberlee Koym-Murteira (scenographer) is excited to be creating her first scenography for MTC especially as it furthers a fulfilling 20 year artistic collaboration with Director Daniel Alexander Jones. Ms. Koym-Murteira began her artistic life in the theater as a scenic artist and set designer with Frontera Productions, Zach Scott Theatre, and Austin Lyric Opera. Then she spent many years working in the film industry for projects as diverse as shorts directed by David Lynch, children’s public television and numerous feature films. Locally, she has created video projections for Berkeley Rep Theatre. Currently though, she focuses primarily now on her own artwork, creating video sculptures and installations. In the Bay Area, you may have seen her work at the Zero 1 Bienniale, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Mission 17, Sonoma State University, The Invisible Venue, and The Lab. Overseas her work has been shown at Porto 2000 Capital of Culture, Cultural Center Malaposta, Gallery ZDB, Lugar Comum, the Biennale of Mediterranean Young Artist in Saravejo, Bosnia, and Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin. She teaches at Diablo Valley College.

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  • Katherine Nowacki

    Katherine Nowacki

    Costume Designer

    Katherine Nowacki (costume designer) is a Bay Area based costume designer and stylist. Recent work includes Pandora's Gift at Z Space with musical group VOLTI, Xtigone at African-American Shakespeare Company, A Raisin in the Sun and A Winter's Tale at California Shakespeare Theater, and Death of a Salesman at Theatreworks Colorado Springs. Her designs have been seen throughout California, Colorado, Oregon, and Texas. She holds an MFA from Southern Methodist University, a BFA from Southern Oregon University, and studied dance/ performance art/ and multi-media design as part of a graduate workshop at the renowned artist residence and laboratory Les Subsistances in Lyon, FR. A long admirer of August Wilson's work she is thrilled to be a part of Gem of the Ocean and making her Marin Theatre Company debut.

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  • Michael K. Wangen+

    Michael K. Wangen+

    Lighting Designer

    Michael K. Wangen (lighting designer) is based in Minneapolis, where he has been a working lighting designer for over 30 years. Regional theater credits: Guthrie Theatre, Children’s Theatre Co., Trinity Rep, Center Stage, Alabama Shakespeare Festival. He is currently the resident designer with both Illusion Theater and Pillsbury House Theatre in Minneapolis and also does extensive work with playwright Carlyle Brown (through Carlyle Brown & Co.) and theatre artist Laurie Carlos. He served as resident designer for Penumbra Theatre (where he met Daniel Alexander Jones) from 1987-2000 and has designed over 60 productions there. He also serves as the lighting designer for Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, now in its final year and is a recipient of a 2012-2013 McKnight Theater Artist Fellowship.

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  • Sara Huddleston

    Sara Huddleston

    Sound Designer

    Sara Huddleston (sound designer) is pleased to make this her first design outing with Marin Theatre Company. Since 2007 she has worked as Director of Production and Resident Sound Designer at Magic Theatre in San Francisco. For Magic, selected designs include Fred’s Diner, And I And Silence, Every Five Minutes, Hir, Arlington, Terminus, Se Llama Cristina, Any Given Day, The Brothers Size, Mrs. Whitney, Goldfish, Evie’s Waltz, The K of D and Octopus (Magic/Encore Theatre Company). Further Bay Area sound design credits include In On It and T.I.C (Encore Theatre Company); The Shaker Chair (Encore Theatre Company/Shotgun Players); Macbeth (Shotgun Players); Three on a Party (Word for Word); A Round Heeled Woman (Z Space); Invasion! and 410 [Gone] (Crowded Fire).

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  • Kevin Carnes

    Kevin Carnes

    Compositon/Music Director

    Kevin Carnes (musical director/composer) is an acoustic and electronic drummer, percussionist, composer, and producer who has played music ranging from jazz to punk rock for more than 30 years. He has performed and recorded with George Clinton and the P-Funk Allstars; Lady Miss Kier of Dee Lite; Matt “Dr.” Fink of Prince; and world music DJ Cheb i Sabbah. Carnes is a founding member of the jazz roots trio the Broun Fellinis, and political punk noise band The Beatnigs. Kevin composed and Music Directed the City Circus productions of Kamikaze Heart (2009) and Echo's Reach (2010) at the Brava Theater in San Francisco. Kevin has composed scores for film, radio, television, and special events including MTV’s Liquid Television and a Macy’s promotional event with his band Broun Fellinis.

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  • Omi Osun Joni L. Jones

    Omi Osun Joni L. Jones


    Omi Osun Joni L. Jones (dramaturg) is an artist/scholar whose work focuses on performance ethnography, theatrical jazz, Yoruba-based aesthetics, Black Feminisms, and activist theatre. She is an Associate Professor of Performance Studies in the African and African Diaspora Studies Department at the University of Texas at Austin (UT), and she has served as the Director of the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies at UT. Among her dramaturgical credits are Shay Youngblood’s directed by Daniel Alexander Jones, and Sharon Bridgforth’s directed by Laurie Carlos. Jones is a participant in the Black Performance Theory Consortium, and is a member of the Urban Futures Think Tank at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Her most recent book, Àṣẹ, , was released in May, 2015.

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  • ​Regina Victoria Fields

    ​Regina Victoria Fields

    Assistant Director

    Regina Victoria Fields is thrilled to be serving as an Artistic Direction Intern at Marin Theatre Company, and for the opportunity to Assistant Direct. Miss Fields recently graduated from Santa Clara University cum laude with double majors in Theatre Arts and Religious Studies and has studied with the Gaiety School of Acting as well as the British American Drama Academy. As an actress, she has worked with companies including California Shakespeare Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theater, and African American Shakespeare Company. In the spring, she will be directing at the Flight Deck in Oakland, as well as assistant directing here at Marin Theatre Company. A firm believer in the power of theatre as a tool of change, she hopes to incorporate social justice into her work as her career progresses.

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* Denotes member of Actors Equity Association
+ Member, United Scenic Artists
^ Member, Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers


  • A ‘Gem’ infused with jazz

    Thirteen years is an unusually short time for a play to be considered a classic, but such is the monumental stature of August Wilson’s Century Cycle that some theater artists have come to believe that it’s time to give all 10 plays the Shakespeare treatment. Meaning, depart from the standard fairly naturalistic productions and soar on the wings of Wilson’s bold images and the grand spoken arias he wrote for his characters.

    That’s the bold concept behind the often exciting, sometimes confusing and generally engrossing “Gem of the Ocean” at Marin Theatre Company. Director Daniel Alexander Jones, known for his “theatrical jazz” approach, stages the early 20th century Pittsburgh tale with a decidedly non-realistic set, bursts of the African drums and proto-jazz of music director Kevin Carnes’ emotive score and shifts into stylized movement passages, ranging from modern dance to flat-out vaudeville.

    It’s remarkable how well some of his experiment works. “Gem” contains some of Wilson’s richest arias, deepest looks back into an African past and the most extended passage of mythic or mystical ritual.

    — Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle Read full review
  • Another Gem From Marin Theatre Company

    One of the many benefits of MTC's quest to present plays by Wilson, Lopez, Gurira, Power, and others, has been the opportunity to watch some terrific African American actors perform. So we've seen the Bay Area's great Margo Hall in both Fences and Seven Guitars, and the less well known but strong actress Omoze Idehenre in Seven Guitars and last season's stunning Convert—as well as a number of outstanding actors who haven't performed here before, such as Smith and Smallwood, who play pivotal roles in Gem of the Ocean. The other fine actors in this Gem include David Everett Moore, Tyee Tilghman, and Marin's own (Caucasian) Patrick Kelly Jones.

    It tells you something about this company and its audience that the play's run has been extended even before the reviews come in. See it. And if you want to know more about August Wilson and you live in the Bay Area, you're in luck. Thanks to MTC's sponsorship, the excellent American Masters episode "August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand," which premiered last February, will air on KQED Pluson Sunday, Feb. 7.

    — Pamela Feinsilber, Huffington Post Read full review
  • ‘Gem of the Ocean’ dramatizes 20th century African-American experience

    Here in the North Bay, there’s more good news than the recent rains. The opening weeks of 2016 have also been exceptional ones for local theatergoers. First came Ross Valley Players’ moving Holocaust classic, The Diary of Anne Frank, whose run at the Marin Art & Garden Center’s Barn ends on February 7. Simply staged with a strong non-union cast, the production’s emotional honesty never wavers and (as an added bonus) ticket buyers will find it relatively easy on the wallet or purse. Community theater at its best.

    On the other hand, if you want to move up a notch, Mill Valley’s Marin Theatre Company (MTC) has just opened August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean, the first (in historical setting, but not date of authorship) of the late double Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist’s series of 10 plays that trace, decade by decade, the African-American community’s difficult journey through the 20th century. True, the entry price at MTC is a bit higher, but if you go you will be rewarded with a production of such quality, freshness and professionalism that its impact will probably remain with you for months to come.

    Set in 1904, Gem is predominantly a play of ideas and atmosphere, rather than plot. What exists of the latter revolves around a large old house in Pittsburgh’s Hill District that local authorities have allowed to become a no-questions-asked “sanctuary home” for former slaves arriving from the South. In the opening scene we meet the residents. There’s Black Mary (Omoze Idehenre), the formidable cook/housekeeper, who keeps the place in some semblance of order; Eli (David Everett Moore), a kind of household assistant; Solly Two Kings (Juney Smith), an imposing escaped slave from Georgia who hates white Americans because they don’t accord him the respect he enjoyed during a prior stay in Canada; and a new arrival from Alabama, Citizen Barlow (Namir Smallwood). Visiting from outside are Caesar Wilks (Tyee J.Tilghman), Black Mary’s brother, who has gained respectability as a Pittsburgh law enforcement officer, and Rutherford Selig (Patrick Kelly Jones), a white travelling salesman whose easygoing demeanor has earned him a ready welcome.

    — Charles Brousse, Pacific Sun Read full review
  • Rare Gem – MTC stages August Wilson masterpiece

    The late August Wilson's penultimate play, the supremely lyrical and gorgeously written 2003 drama Gem of the Ocean, may be set in 1904, but its themes stretch purposefully back in time to the beginning of New World slavery and reach forward to the present, when African Americans are still fighting many of the same struggles.

    This timelessness is sewn into the script of Gemlike the old quilts and collages that Wilson gave as inspiration for his work, blending lush historical detail and remarkably well-drawn characters into a plot that unfolds like a roll of fabric, with language and dialogue that moves from colloquial specificity to the heart-breaking heights of pure poetry.

    In Daniel Alexander Jones' sometimes baffling but emotionally rich staging, Wilson's engaging words are embellished with a kind of hand-clapping, finger-snapping, sign-language-style choreography that resembles dance but stops short of having his characters actually burst into ballet or the soft shoe. It's a technique Jones calls "theatrical jazz," something the young New York–based director is known for.

    — David Templeton, Bohemian Read full review
  • Gem of the Ocean

    Through her walled displays that could as easily be in an art gallery as on a theatre’s stage, Kimberlee Koym-Murteira captures the essence of the themes and stories of August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean. A beautiful liquid prism wall of overlapping squares of many shades of blue recalls the journey of slaves across the Atlantic. Wooden chairs (one with a washboard as backing) hung on a wall, to be used as needed and then returned, speak to a people that have had, time and again, to set themselves down in humble settings before picking up and moving on again. A massive collage of scenes from the 1904 Hill District of Pittsburgh both establish the time and the location of the story and the nature of the intertwined stories that will act as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle to paint an overall picture of the past, present, and future of Africans come to America. Finally, the walls all rest on a floor that suggests that great, faraway continent where the ancestors of those we will meet were so horribly separated forever. Marin Theatre Company presents a soaring, sensitive, and -- in every way imaginable -- sensational production of this first of August Wilson’s plays about the African American experience in the ten decades of the Twentieth Century.

    The beginning of any new century is often full of hope while still carrying the consequences of the past one. The collage of stories of those living and passing through 1839 Wylie Avenue are of those who remember slavery, those who risked lives for theirs and others’ freedom, those who are working hard to establish their own roots in what is in essence a new world for them, and those who are still running from oppression toward hoped-for salvation. Framing all the pieces of our evening’s puzzle is a too-familiar story, then and now. An African-American man is accused wrongly of a petty crime (in this case, stealing a bucket of nails from a local mill) and ends in his committing suicide, choosing to die as an innocent rather than be falsely jailed. This atrocity inflames this 1904 Black community, resulting in an uprising and an act of destructive defiance that will be repeated over and again in Watts, Boston, Memphis, Baltimore, and too many other American cities. As background music (composed and directed by Kevin Carnes) of distant African chants, moaning hymns born in slavery, early jazz notes, and later hints of honky-tonk and even rap so profoundly alert us, August Wilson’s play is truly one of yesteryear, yesterday, and today.

    — Eddie Reynolds, Theater Eddys Read full review

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