Returning to the Faculty of Wonderful Arts on Howard’s campus introduced again a flood of wealthy recollections of my encounters with what we referred to as the “Wonderful Arts Freaks” again within the day. And ingesting within the collage of well-known graduates showcased within the foyer equivalent to Chadwick Boseman, after whom the constructing is now named, Taraji P. Henson, Division Chair Nikkole Salter, and the newly appointed Dean Phylicia Rashad introduced full circle the division’s energy to groom and produce world-class expertise.
August Wilson’s Seven Guitars offered Howard’s Division of Theatre Arts with its newest alternative to showcase an abundance of latest expertise together with Director Jeff Kirkman III, a 2013 HU graduate with a BFA in appearing, who’s at present serving with Baltimore Heart Stage’s creative producing workforce, the place he launched his directing profession as an assistant director in The Raisin Cycle (A Raisin within the Solar by Lorraine Hansberry, Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris, and Beneatha’s Place by Kwame Kwei-Armah).
After I requested Jeff what impressed him to tackle this August Wilson traditional, he stated, “August Wilson’s play Jitney is what obtained me curious about theater, and a monologue from that very same play allowed me to be admitted into the Division of Theatre Arts. Directing Seven Guitars provides one other level to the circle as a result of this manufacturing is the primary post-pandemic alternative to get the scholars within the theatre arts division again on stage. I’m honored to be again at Howard and lead the scholars on this manufacturing.”
And a outstanding solid of younger faculty college students with outdated souls was chosen to fill the well-traveled footwear of seven road-weary musicians and their loved-starved “different halves,” from Mississippi to Chicago and Pittsburgh and again.
The musical undercurrent is pushed by the bold desires of Blues singer Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton, performed by Shawn Smith, who after serving time on a trumped-up cost, desires to get his guitar out of the pawn store and return to Chicago, together with his facet males harmonica participant Canewell, performed by Kah’lil Hicks-Jumper, and Crimson Carter, a easy trash-talking, pistol-packing gangster, performed with strong avenue creds by Matthew Margerum.
However Seven Guitars is as a lot concerning the ladies in Floyd’s life as concerning the music. And right here is the place the southern undercurrent of Mississippi bubbles to the floor and explodes with Louise, the broken-hearted boarding home matron, performed by Mississippi native Ahdis Beruk, opening the play with the sultry track of “Strive My Cabbage.” She and her equally love-starved buddy Vera, performed by Mya Hunter, who was deserted by Floyd on his final journey to Pittsburgh, hearken to loopy hen sandwich maker Hedley, performed to a psychotic twist by Julius Shanks II, as he foreshadows the funeral of Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton.
The ultimate ingredient is offered by the late arrival of Ruby, Louise’s foot-loose and fancy niece from Chicago, performed by Madeline Phillips, a senior appearing main from Meridian, Mississippi, who completes the genuine southern taste of the coed solid, who collectively ship an genuine tackle mature mid-life characters performed within the unique Broadway manufacturing by stage and movie veterans Viola Davis as Vera, Keith David as Floyd, and Ruben Santiago-Hudson as Canewell.
August Wilson’s Seven Guitars represents these seven characters’ final likelihood at fame, fortune, and love in post-WWII Pittsburgh, and performs on Wilson’s recurrent themes of the violent and soul-crushing trauma of jail and white exploitation of Black males represented by the symbolic slaughter and hatred of the Rooster, as Floyd’s blind ambition results in a tragic and bitter ending.
The artistic workforce was led by Director Jeff Kirkman III, supported by design workforce members Harlan Penn and Gregory Jackson (set); Professor Benny Gomes (lighting); Jason Jones (sound); and Professor Frankie Bethea, who coordinated an 18-member costume workforce of scholars that nailed the felt-hat, zoot-suit-with-vest, and gold-watch-chain-wearing types of Nineteen Forties Black males in addition to the slithering but subtle below-the-knees costume types of city Black ladies of the interval.
The manufacturing additionally gave 13 scholar members of the run crew — 5 members of the make-up and hair crew, 2 set designers, and a behind-the-scenes assortment of one other 2 scholar stage managers and a struggle choreographer and advertising and marketing workforce — a possibility to earn greater than faculty credit.
In true collaborative vogue, the artistic workforce included Professors Hammond, the dramaturg; Professor Jackson, technical path; and Professor Frankie Bethea, costume design.
Operating Time: Two hours half-hour, together with a 15-minute intermission.
Seven Guitars performed November 3 to six, 2022, offered at Howard College by the Chadwick A. Boseman Faculty of Wonderful Arts Division of Theatre Arts performing within the intimate 50-seat Al Freeman Jr. Environmental Theatre Area. Initially offered on the Nationwide Playwright’s Convention of The Eugene O’Neill Theatre Heart.