August Wilson's Neighborhood

by:  Todd Williams at 11/10/2009

One of the more interesting things we heard at our post show discussions for Fences was that many people really thought they had seen the play here before, even though we had never done it. The world of this play was a very familiar place for our patrons, as we have now staged 9 out of the 10 plays.

Several weeks ago I received the following comment:

lgalen said...
"I've been watching August Wilson's neighborhood evolve at the Hungtington since Joe Turner in the mid 80's. I've been fascinated by the scenic design. Am I imagining it, or is there an attempt to reconstruct or reconfigure some of the past Huntington Wilson sets, in the more recent plays? IIRC, Radio Golf's set seemed to be a recreation of Jitney's. Fence's backyard seemed reminiscent, maybe of Seven Guitars, or maybe another of the plays? Is my mind playing tricks? Is it just a function of the plays occuring in a specific neighborhood, or is this (as I believe) a conscious device?"

I wrote lgalen back to let him know that, over the years, we've had many different designers and several different directors and yet the plays certainly all had a feeling of the same place. We did not share any past designs or photos with the current team and we don't save our sets. So there was certainly no conscious device on our part to place elements of previous productions into the newer ones. You're giving us a lot of credit - I wish we had thought of it! There certainly might have been a few of the same props - we've been building our stock for 27 years now. And each design team did extensive research on the Hill District.

I thought I would post a few photos from our past August Wilson productions. We don't have too many that show a lot of set - but I found what I could. Do they seem like reconfigurations of each other? What elements do they share.Can you name the productions? I'll give a free pair of tickets to A Civil War Christmas to the first person who emails me with the play titles in the right order (my email address is on the comment form, click below). Scroll to the end for a few hints.

Photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

photo 4

photo 5

photo 6
photo 7
photo 8 

Photo 1: Hassan El-Amin and James A. Williams
Photo 2: 1990-1991 season. Bonus tickets if you can name all three actors in this photo
Photo 3: Reuben Santiago-Hudson and LisaGay Hamilton
Photo 4: Eugene Lee and John Beasley
Photo 5: Tony Todd and Russell Andrews
Photo 6: Charles Dutton and Rocky Carroll
Photo 7: August Wilson and Lloyd Richards
Photo 8: Not Radio Golf - and Bonus tickets if you can name both actors in this photo.

Which shows are missing? 

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About me

Todd Williams has contributed to the Huntington's blog since it was started in the fall of 2006, and he enjoys writing and sharing the Huntington's activities here whenever he can.

Todd started working at the Huntington in 1991 as light board operator, and then served as the Master Electrician for 10 seasons. Todd is now the Huntington Theatre Company's Production Mangager, the position he has held since 2002 .

Todd previously worked for the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company, Trinity Repertory Company, and The Collins Center for the Performing Arts.

In addition to the many shows that Todd has worked on here, his favorite project has been working with the Huntington staff, architects, consultants and contractors to design and build out the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, which opened as the Huntington's second stage in 2004.

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