Oct. 27—Kennesaw State University's Department of Theatre and Performance Studies will present August Wilson's Jitney Nov. 11-16 at the Stillwell Theater on the Kennesaw campus.
It's 1977 in a Black neighborhood of Pittsburgh, and drivers of unlicensed cabs, or jitneys, fight for survival and respect as their garage is threatened in the name of neighborhood improvement. Jitney explores what happens when tempers flare, potent secrets are revealed and relationships threaten to splinter.
Audiences can relate to the story because it touches on relationships of many kinds: parent/child, romantic and even those dealing with the effects of trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder. Patrons are privy to being a part of those relationships, to seeing the slices of life happen, to connecting and resonating with those on stage.
Wilson had a knack for creating rich characters, particularly for African American actors, and a unique talent to chronicle the African American experience. The playwright uses African American language like Shakespeare used Elizabethan language. "He was such a good listener in real life, and when you see his work, you see how keen his powers of observation were; his characters are vivid, his material is incredibly rich, particularly for Black actors," said TPS faculty and director Jacqueline Springfield.
In researching the playwright, she traveled to Pittsburgh and toured his childhood home, arriving just in time to see a production of Jitney in the newly built outdoor theater behind his home. Springfield was thrilled "to see this production in the backyard of the home where he grew up, to see the jitney station right around the corner, the one that he based his play on, to be able to do my research in that way."
Jitney runs Nov. 11-16 at the Stillwell Theater on the Kennesaw campus. In-person tickets are available at TheatreKSU.com. For more information about Kennesaw State University Department of Theatre and Performance Studies, visit arts.kennesaw.edu/theatre.