On Friday, Sept. 16, professional actors from the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company (PPTCO) visited Shady Side Academy Senior School to perform scenes from their production of the August Wilson play Jitney. The performance took place in the Richard E. Rauh Theater in the Hillman Center for Performing Arts on campus and was attended by approximately 75 students, faculty and staff.
The visitors included PPTCO founder and producing artistic director Mark Clayton Southers, a Shady Side parent who directs the play, and actors Jonathan Berry (Booster), Kevin Brown (Becker), Elexa Hanner (Rena), Mike Traylor (Fielding) and Dionysius Akeem (Youngblood). The play was entering its final weekend of performances, which were staged outdoors at the August Wilson House in the Hill District from Aug. 12-Sept. 18.
The actors performed four powerful scenes from the play, which is a compelling drama that depicts the lives of drivers at a jitney cab station in Pittsburgh's Hill District in 1977. After the scenes, the director and actors took questions from the audience about their acting techniques, their favorite August Wilson plays, when they first discovered their passion for theater and more.
The visit was arranged by Senior School English teacher Adam Janosko, who is teaching an upperclass elective on August Wilson this fall, in which students read and study several plays in the playwright's Century Cycle, and the class is preparing to read Jitney next. Clayton Southers told the students he hoped the performance would help bring Wilson's work to life when they read it. In addition to the students in Janosko's class, the performance was open to any students, faculty and staff who were free that class period, and many others attended.
In the coming weeks, Janosko's class will travel to the August Wilson Center and the August Wilson House to learn more about the famed Pittsburgh playwright's life and works.
The Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company is rooted in the African American community, and its mission is to produce the works of local racially and culturally diverse playwrights as well as Pittsburgh themed plays. Learn more at www.pghplaywrights.org.
Thank you to the PPTCO for sharing your work with our students!
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