Shore Begins August Wilson's American Century Cycle

Shore Cultural Centre is proud to present a special series of reader’s theater productions and events focused on the work of renowned American playwright August Wilson.  The American Century Cycle project is based on the study and performance of Wilson’s series of ten plays all of which but one take place in the Hill District of Pittsburgh.  The cycle dramatizes the African American experience through ten separate decades, beginning with Gem of the Ocean set in the 1900’s.  Gem of the Ocean will be presented by the Theatre Program at Shore in a readers theatre production on September 25 at 7:00pm in Shore Auditorium directed by Shore Artistic Associate Terrence Spivey.  Shore plans to present more, if not all, of the plays in Wilson’s Cycle.  

Gem of the Ocean, the first play, chronologically follows Aunt Ester, a 287-year-old matriarch who brings two boarders into her Pittsburgh home in 1904; a former slave and Union Army scout, and a young man from Alabama named Citizen Barlow.  The play explores the difficult period after the Civil War in which slavery was outlawed but African-Americans were skeptical of the government’s progressive reforms. Aunt Ester is a mystical cleanser of souls and she helps Barlow literally break free of his past.

Terrence Spivey, Artistic Associate of the Theatre Program at Shore, will be overseeing and providing artistic direction and educational outreach for the project.  Spivey has seen several of Wilson’s plays performed on Broadway and has directed Cleveland area productions of Fences, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Radio Golf, and the autobiographical How I Learned What I Learned at Shore.  Mr. Spivey’s interest in August Wilson has grown into an intense study of the playwright and his work.

Tickets are $12 and are available on line ( and at the Shore administrative office, Room 143.   Call 216-289-8578 for more information. 

Gem of the Ocean is presented with the permission of the Wilson Estate and by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc. 

Jim Spittle

Jim is the Programming and Marketing Manager for the Shore Cultural Centre.

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Volume 8, Issue 9, Posted 4:31 PM, 09.14.2017