Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company Hosts Historical Production of “Seven Guitars”

By Zoe Vongtau-11th Grade, Baldwin High School

All through the month of August, local Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company will produce Seven Guitars, a play written by local legend August IMG_4124Wilson.

Seven Guitars, one of the decadal entries in Wilson’s Pittsburgh cycle, surrounds events leading to the death of a potentially great blues singer, Floyd Schoolboy Barton. The play has been performed by many different theatrical groups and organizations what makes this revival unique is its location.

For the first time ever, the show is being held where Wilson imagined the setting of the play, in the backyard of his childhood home in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. In Wilson’s cycle, 9 out of 10 plays are set in Pittsburgh.  

Settings of Wilson’s plays can be matched to specific streets of the Hill District including  Wylie Avenue, Centre Avenue, and Wilson’s home on Bedford Avenue.IMG_4126

The three hour long spectacle stars Jonathan Berry, Kevin Brown, Teri Bridgett, Wali  Jamal, Jamilah Chanie and Leslie Ezra Smith. Actors Jamal and Bridgett reprised their roles from the 2009 performance also produced by company.

The show was directed by Mark Clayton Southers, founder of the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company.

Seven Guitars displays the Hill district in 1948 through the life of Floyd Barton and friends. In the beginning of the play, the audience is introduced to the characters at Barton’s funereal. As the play progresses we learn about Floyd’s past.

The budding blues singer has just returned from an unjust incarceration and has big plans to follow up the success of his hit song and even bigger plans to woo back his love Vera. Although, many obstacles precede Floyd, including debt, and remnants of infidelity.

Eventually, greed internally and externally causes the downfall of Floyd as he is slain by an equally depressed friend, King Hedley. The play ends with the characters unaware of actual cause of Floyd’s death, leaving the audience pawning for another resolution.  

The few actors and actresses in the show perfectly embody their roles, accents, clothing and all. Through their depictions, the audience is transported back into a decade.

Spectators were also given the opportunity to travel through the soundtrack of play, including Floyd’s only single “That’s Alright”, actually sung by Jimmy Rogers. Songs in the show allow the audience to absorb the moods of the characters and scenes.

A majority of the shows were sold out and due to high demand, an additional two matinee shows were added for August 27th and 28th.

Those hoping to witness a glimpse of the history in motion should act quick as the location will soon be replaced with the Daisy Wilson Artist Community, named after Wilson’s mother.

In addition to the community, Pittsburgh has acknowledged Wilson, since his death in 2005, through dedications like the August Wilson Center, and August Wilson Park. Outside of Pittsburgh, locations like the Virginia Theatre in New IMG_4128York City and Republican Street in Seattle were renamed in his honor.

Through the work of organizations like Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, the legacy of August Wilson will not be forgotten or tarnished.  









By Zoe Vongtau-11th Grade, Baldwin High School

A few months ago I had only vaguely heard of Pittsburgh Youth Media, but through the advice of my mentors and teachers, I decided to actually join the program this year. I am involved with my school, Baldwin High School’s, newspaper, the Purbalite, and so I also joined in hopes of expanding my journalistic opportunities and abilities.

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