We’ve reached the halfway point of Syracuse Stage’s 40th Anniversary Season and what a ride it’s been. While I didn’t get to see the first two plays, I caught White Christmas a few weeks back. The verdict? Fantastic. Anyway, I’m excited to announce that the Stage’s next play is August Wilson’s Two Trains Running. Opening night isn’t until Wednesday, January 30th it runs through mid-February, but I wanted to let you know in advance. This one’s Guru Gauranteed.
Two Trains Running premiered at Yale Repertory Theatre back in 1990 and was nominated for the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Even though it didn’t win, what an honor that must have been. The play is actually the seventh part in the late August Wilson’s ten-part series The Pittsburgh Cycle. In 1992 the play premiered on Broadway.
Two Trains Running focuses on African-American life during the volatile 1960s. Specifically the plot takes place in the Hill District, an African-American neighborhood of Pittsburgh in 1969. Set in a time period of changing attitudes about race and the backlash of violence, overt racism, and lynchings against blacks in the South, Two Trains examines the societal and psychological implications of race. August Wilson was an African-American playwright writing about ’60s black struggle from the point of view of characters from that group; now that’s what you call authenticity. Other themes explored include the African American Great Migration, urban unrest, oppression of black women from within African-American social structures, and the Black Power movement. Given the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the tension in Pittsburgh’s Hill District was at an all time high–what better moment to set the play? More detail here.
According the Syracuse Stage, the plot is as follows: “In Two Trains Running, an optimistic ex-con enters the insular confines of Memphis Lee’s diner and awakens a cast of older and skeptical characters to the possibilities of a new era. Set in the turbulence of 1969, a time much like today, Two Trains Running is one of the most humorous and politically potent of Wilson’s 20th Century Cycle plays.”
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A note on Archibold Theatre: Of all the Syracuse theatres, this is the best one. From my recent visit it’s obvious that there is not a bad seat in the house!
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