February 27, 2006
Events will celebrate life, work of August Wilson
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale's theater department next month will celebrate the life and work of August Wilson.
The highly regarded African-American playwright chronicled the history of black Americans from slavery to today in a collection of 10 plays. Wilson died last October of inoperable liver cancer.
The department will present two special events: a production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1987 play "Fences," and an appearance by Wilson's lifelong friend, Vernell Lillie.
Lillie is the chairwoman of the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Pittsburgh and the founder of the Kuntu Repertory Theater, one of the first African-American theater organizations in the country and the theater where Wilson began his career. She will speak on her lifelong association with the playwright and his rich legacy of heritage and history.
Lillie's presentation, "In Celebration: August Wilson, His Life and Work," is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, March 26, at the Christian H. Moe Laboratory Theater. It will include a question and answer session and a reception. The event is free and open to the public.
"Fences" is set during the struggle and discrimination of the early 1960s. It tells the story of Troy Maxson, an African-American male, trying to break down the barriers that keep him from a loving relationship with his wife and son.
Segun Ojewuyi, assistant professor of theater, will direct the play. It also will feature special performances by two local luminaries.
Appearing in the role of the betrayed wife, Rose, is Beverly Love. Love, a lecturer in the radio-TV department, earned her doctorate from SIUC. The Rev. Joseph Brown, director of the Black American Studies program at SIUC, plays the role of Troy Maxson, which won a Tony award for James Earl Jones in 1987.
The production plays March 23-26, with performances at 7:30 p.m. March 23-25 and at 2 p.m. March 26. There is a pre-show lecture set for 1:30 p.m. March 26 in the Christian H. Moe Laboratory Theater.
Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $6 students and children and can be obtained by calling the theater department box xffice at 618/351-3001 between noon and 5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Coordinating and expanding major cultural outreach programs is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.