By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act
Via a live stream of a conversation between Denzel Washington and Dr. Todd Boyd happening at USC School of Cinematic Arts as I type this, Washington just revealed that, in addition to the below previously-announced film adaptation of August Wilson’s “Fences” (which he’ll star in – along with Viola Davis – and direct), he’s inked a deal with HBO that will see him bring to the screen, Wilson’s American Century Cycle series, which consists of 10 plays portraying the 20th century African American experience, from the early 1900s, just after slavery and the Civil War, to the 1990s, which saw a large and increasingly influential black middle class still having to contend with persistent racial tensions.
Washington shared that the deal with HBO will see him produce all 10 plays for the cable TV network, 1 a year, for the next 10 years, starting, of course, with “Fences,” which he said he’ll be directing next spring (2016).
He’s doing this in collaboration with the August Wilson Estate.
The list of 10 plays follows:
- 1900s “Gem of the Ocean” – A young man from Alabama visits Aunt Ester, a 285-year-old renowned cleanser of souls for help in absolving the guilt he carries from a crime he’s committed.
- 1910s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” – Set in Pittsburgh, the story of Seth and Bertha Holly and the migrants who pass through their boardinghouse during the Great Migration of the 1910s.
- 1920s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” – Set in Chicago in 1927, the play explores issues of race, art, religion and the historic exploitation of black recording artists by white producers.
- 1930s “The Piano Lesson” – Set in 1936 Pittsburgh, the story of a brother and sister who have different ideas on what to do with the piano they own – keep or sell it.
- 1940s “Seven Guitars” – The story of a blues singer just released from prison and ready to right the past year’s wrongs.
- 1950s “Fences” – Set in 1950s Pittsburgh, the story of Troy Maxson, a restless trash-collector and former baseball athlete struggling to provide for his family.
- 1960s “Two Trains Running” – The story of a local diner owner who fights to stay open as a municipal project encroaches on his establishment.
- 1970s “Jitney” – Set in a worn-down gypsy cab station in Pittsburgh, the story of men hustling to make a living as jitneys — unofficial and unlicensed taxi cabs.
- 1980s “King Hedley II” – The story of an ex-convict trying to rebuild his life by selling stolen refrigerators so that he can save enough money to buy a video store.
- 1990s “Radio Golf” – A powerful African American politician runs for the highest office of his career, but as he steps into prominence, his plans collide with his past.
Nothing else to share at this time. But the live stream continues, so click here to watch it if you’re not already.