Home Arts-Entertainment Showcase UVI Presents August Wilson's 'Seven Guitars'

UVI Presents August Wilson's 'Seven Guitars'


Nov. 6, 2005 – UVI Little Theatre is opening its 2005-2006 season with August Wilson's Seven Guitars. Director Dennis Parker is dedicating the production to the memory of the playwright, who passed away at the age of 60 on Nov. 2.
The play Seven Guitars was the sixth installment in Wilson's decade-by-decade exploration of the African-American experience in the United States from World War II through the end of the 20th century. The ten plays took Wilson over twenty years to complete.
The remarkable quality of his work won the playwright two Pulitzer Prizes — first for Fences and later for The Piano Lesson. Fences, a past UVI production, also earned him a Tony Award for best play. Six of his other plays received best-play nominations for the Tony and a record seven won New York Drama Circle prizes. Seven Guitars was one of the Drama Critic Circle Award winners.
The largely self-educated playwright started writing in 1965 on a used typewriter. By 1968 he had completed his first play. He finished Seven Guitars in 1996. His most recent play was Radio Golf (2005). In honor of outstanding contributions to American drama, a Broadway theater, the Virginia, will be renamed for Wilson later this month.
Seven Guitars is set in 1948, shortly after the end of World War II, when Blues music was becoming big and Chicago was the "promised land" of the recording business. The title of the play refers to the seven characters whose stories form the plotline. The action takes place in the backyard of a dilapidated rooming house in the Pittsburgh Hill District where the playwright himself once lived. The story line follows the fate of seven friends who gather after the funeral of Floyd "Schoolboy" Barton, a local blues guitarist whose search for fame and fortune ended in tragedy.
The play will open Friday, Nov. 11 and run through Monday, Nov. 14, in the University of the Virgin Islands Little Theatre on the second floor of the Classroom Administration Building. The cast is a mix of talented UVI students and community actors. Floyd "Schoolboy" Barton is played by Sheldon Turnbull. His blues band members consist of Canewell, played by Jeffrey Purcell and "Red Carter," played by George Silcott Jr.
The part of Floyd's girlfriend, Vera, features Lynette Oliver in her first UVI role.
Kishma Harrigan plays Vera's sharp-tongued neighbor, Louise. Ruby, Louise's enticing young niece, is played by Amina Henderson. Gerrard "Bandura" Huggans is the calypso-singing Haitian peddler, Hedley.
As director Dennis Parker explains, "Part bawdy comedy, part dark elegy and part mystery. . .the story sounds like beautiful, complex music – a funky, wailing, irresistible blues."
Tickets for the UVI Little Theatre production of Seven Guitars are $12 for adults and $6 for students. They are on sale at Dockside Bookstore in Havensight Mall, Modern Music in Nisky Center, UVI Bookstore and the UVI Humanities Building.


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