JITNEY’s Director, L. Peter Callender, is the Artistic Director of the African-American Shakespeare Company in San Francisco, CA and comes to American Stage with an impressive resume of credits ranging from Broadway to work in England, France, and Japan.
Join L. Peter Callender and American Stage Producing Artistic Director Stephanie Gularte in conversation this Sunday (January 10th) at 1PM. $7 Subscribers | $10 General Public. Book Now.
What makes JITNEY unique in Wilson’s Century Cycle?
JITNEY, Wilson’s first play, is the only of Wilson’s plays not to go to Broadway. Not because it wasn’t worthy, but because the producers got cold feet after the play before did’t do the expected ticket sales. An attempt to rectify that error is being made as we speak. Another aspect of it’s uniqueness is the play itself. Unlike MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM, JOE TURNER’S COME AND GONE, FENCES or PIANO LESSON, four of Wilson’s masterpieces, JITNEY’S genius is in its characters and Shakespearean-like poetry. The plot is a simple one, but Wilson shapes each character with a journey of yearning; a personal attempt to battle the forces that are trying to encroach on their world. He gives them all magnificently sculpted arias that emanate effortlessly from the hearts of these people and touch their listeners. In it’s earlier incarnation, JITNEY was 90 minutes long and needed work, Wilson put it aside determined to write a great play: MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM was the result. He then came back to JITNEY, took away characters, added the beautiful monologues, changes the year from 1971 to 1977 and presented the world with what I sincerely feel is his best play!
Do you anticipate any unique directorial challenges to working on JITNEY at American Stage?
Yes. Each stage, each space, has it’s challenges–physical or otherwise. American Stage presents a challenging audience perspective which I have to be always aware of as director. I am constantly on the move in rehearsals to make sure I am delivering the play to every part of the house and not cheating any audience member out of our beautiful work. It’s … Read the rest