Event Information

August Wilson’s GEM OF THE OCEAN – Staged Reading

GEM artBy The Pittsburgh Playwright’s Theatre Company
Mark Clayton Southers, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
In collaboration with Celebration Church.

“As in the past, Southers and his company give vitality and depth to Wilson’s plays, honoring the often brilliant, always fascinating Pittsburgh playwright.”
-WRCT Radio, Pittsburgh

The first episode of August Wilson’s epic cycle of African-American life in the 20th century, this critically-acclaimed play is filled with memorable characters, gentle humor and soulful poetry. Set in 1904 in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Gem of the Ocean tells the story of a young black man, Citizen Barlow, who escapes the hostility of the South to the black boroughs of Pittsburgh. Tension boils in the town as its population grows impatient with poor working conditions at the town mill and overpriced lodging. Local constable Caesar makes the situation more volatile by ruling with an iron fist. Citizen seeks guidance from wise old Aunt Ester who is rumored to possess magical powers. “They say you can wash people’s souls,” he tells her, begging her to relieve him of the guilt and shame of his past. Aunt Ester invites him to live with her, and he becomes part of a makeshift family composed of Aunt Ester, her assistant, Black Mary, her gate keeper, Eli, and friends, Solly Two Kings, and Rutherford Selig. Citizen is promised a journey to the mystical City of Bones to earn his redemption. Gem of the Ocean takes the audience on a journey toward reckoning with one’s self while exploring the concepts of truth, freedom and justice.

Chisholm 1Tony Award Nominated actor Anthony Chisholm joins the Pittsburgh Playwright’s Theatre Company staged reading, recreating the role of “Solly Two Kings” which he originally created on Broadway. Chisholm won his Nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a play in the role of Elder Joseph Barlow in August Wilson’s Radio Golf. He also performed on Broadway in Two Trains Running in the role of Wolf. He is a winner of both the Drama Desk Award and the Obie Award for August Wilson’s Jitney, which enjoyed a ten month New York City run. Chisholm is also the recipient of the NAACP Theatre Award, the AUDELCO Award, the Ovation Award, and the I.R.N.E. Award. Other nominations include several of the following awards: two Drama Desk Awards , a Drama League Award , four  Joseph Jefferson Awards, Four Ovation Awards, two NAACP Theatre Awards, and two AUDELCO Awards.
Internationally, Anthony Chisholm has performed in the hit Vietnam play, Tracers, at The Seymoure Center, Sydney, Australia; the Universal Theatre, Melbourne, Australia; The Royal Court Theatre, London, England. He also performed Jitney at London’s Prestigious National Theatre on the South Bank  which won the 2002 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play.
Audiences will recognize Chisholm as Burr Redding on the HBO television series Oz where he appeared for three seasons as well as in the film Chi-Raq.

About Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company

Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company was founded by Mark Clayton Southers in 2003. Its mission is to develop and showcase the works of Pittsburgh playwrights, nurture a racially and culturally diverse community of theatre workers, and promote a diverse audience.

Celebration Church
Friday, February 5 from 7:00 – 10:30pm


Celebration Church
6080 Foreland Garth
Columbia, MD 21045