Wilsonian Warrior Eugene Lee leads cast in masterpiece drama on the civil rights movement in a production deemed “simply top notch” (Broadway World)
Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater announces the full company for August Wilson’s quintessential epic drama Two Trains Running. Confronted with a rapidly changing world in the wake of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the looming demolition of Memphis Lee’s diner, Memphis and his regular customers struggle to maintain their solidarity and sense of pride. Hailed by the New York Times as “Mr. Wilson’s most adventurous and honest attempt to reveal the intimate heart of history,” Two Trains Running, under the direction of Juliette Carrillo, is a co-production with Seattle Repertory Theatre and runs March 30-April 29, 2018 on the Fichandler Stage.
Reprising their roles from the celebrated Seattle Repertory production hailed by The Seattle Times as “powerful…deeply resonant” are Eugene Lee (Broadway’s Gem of the Ocean and Arena Stage’s every tongue confess) as Memphis Lee, Carlton Byrd (Woolly Mammoth’s Antebellum) as Sterling, William Hall Jr. (Seattle Shakespeare Company’s Othello) as West, Reginald Andre Jackson (Seattle Repertory’s Well) as Wolf, Nicole Lewis (Broadway’s Hair) as Risa, Frank Riley III (Arena Stage’s A Raisin in the Sun) as Hambone and David Emerson Toney (Broadway’s Juan Darién and Arena Stage’s The Piano Lesson) as Holloway.
“The powerful work of August Wilson has a real home in the Fichandler. This is a co-production with our sister theater Seattle Rep, and the wonderful Juliette Carrillo will move the production from their proscenium space into our signature space in the round,” says Smith. “Especially with August Wilson, having the community experience of seeing your fellow audience members increases the power of his words. Having Juliette return to Arena as she cuts her teeth, as an inaugural member of the Allen Lee Hughes Fellowship program, is truly exciting.”
“As the Black Lives Matter movement has brought the concerns of the African American community into the center of public eye in recent times, this 1992 play (set in 1969) has become startlingly current,” shares Carrillo. “Wilson’s genius everyday poetry illuminates the emergence of personal dignity and self-worth during the one of the most turbulent eras in our country. As a Latinx female director, it has been a great honor and privilege to partner with this artistic team to bring these very human stories to light at a time when the struggles of the civil rights movement continue to resonate.”
Arena Stage has a celebrated history of prominently featuring August Wilson’s work. Most recently in 2015, Arena produced King Hedley II, and his other works including Gem of the Ocean, The Piano Lesson, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Fences and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone have been seen at Arena Stage.
August Wilson (Playwright)’s plays include Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson (Pulitzer Prize winner), Seven Guitars, Fences (Pulitzer Prize winner, Tony Award winner), Two Trains Running, Jitney (Olivier Award winner), King Hedley II and Radio Golf. In 2003, he made his stage debut in his one-man show, How I Learned What I Learned. He received an Emmy Award nomination for his screenplay for The Piano Lesson. Other works include The Janitor, Recycle, The Coldest Day of the Year, Malcolm X, The Homecoming and the musical satire Black Bart and the Sacred Hills. Other awards include eight New York Drama Critics Circle Awards, Rockefeller and Guggenheim Fellowships in Playwriting, a Whiting Writers Award, 2003 Heinz Award, 1999 National Humanities Medal and induction into the Theater Hall of Fame.
Juliette Carrillo (Director) is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and has directed critically-acclaimed premieres and revival productions in theaters across the country including Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Repertory, Yale Repertory, Denver Center and Seattle Repertory. As a member of the Cornerstone Theater ensemble, she has developed work for and with various communities such as the Los Angeles River community, the addiction and recovery community, the Hindu community and seniors and their caregivers. She was an artistic associate and Director of the Hispanic Playwright’s Project at South Coast Repertory for seven years, developing work with writers such as Nilo Cruz, Octavio Solis, José Rivera and Karen Zacarías. She is on faculty at University of California, Irvine. www.juliettecarrillo.com