Monday, January 7, 2019

In recognition of the Martin Luther King holiday, the Department of Theatre will present actor Wali Jamal in August Wilson's “How I Learned What I Learned.” Performances will be Thursday and Friday, Jan. 17-18.

This one-man show, created by August Wilson and Todd Kreidler, chronicles Wilson’s life as a black artist in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, recounting his life from childhood to the completion of “The American Century Cycle” of award-winning plays. Wilson, himself, performed the premiere, presented by Seattle Repertory Theatre in 2003.

Wilson (1945-2005) is considered one of the most important playwrights of his generation, having won two Pulitzer Prizes, a Tony Award and seven New York Drama Critics Circle Awards. The 10 plays in “The American Century Cycle” explore the heritage and experience of the descendants of Africans in North America, decade by decade, during the course of the 20th century.

Jamal, a Pittsburgh native, performer and playwright, is the only actor to have performed in all 10 of Wilson’s “American Century Cycle” plays and “How I Learned What I Learned.” He was recently named the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “2018 Performer of the Year.”

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Black Box Theater in Robinson Hall. Tickets range from $8-$18 and are available online or at the Robinson Hall Box Office.

Following the Jan. 17 performance, Lynne Conner, chair of the Department of Theatre, will host “August Wilson’s Pittsburgh: A Post-show Conversation with Wali Jamal.” A protégé of Wilson, Jamal is actively involved in productions that interpret Pittsburgh’s rich African American culture and history. Conner, also a Pittsburgh native, will share insights into Wilson’s work from her book, “Pittsburgh in Stages: Two Hundred Years of Theater” (University of Pittsburgh Press).

Photo: Wali Jamal