Having directed 7 of the ten plays from the Century Cycle in chronological order and in production for Jitney with the intention of finishing the cycle in chronological order next year — I have found the alchemy inherent in Wilson’s spell of a cycle. It is black magic, meant to transform, awaken, inspire, educate, and most of all it is a spell of rememberance — outside the circle the story has a different meaning, it can not be phantomed (outside the circle) in its entire majesty. It’s a most peculiar and particular type of jazz you can play the notes but overstanding the tune is not automatic — if it was few white directors would attempt Wilson. When they do it is the comedic notes that are part of comi-tragedy that they choose to elevate using it to mediate the iron and water Wilson sewed into each tale. As a black director Wilson’s iron and water are as important to me as air. I overstand. I am of the same kiln — standing on the same ground, walking in the shadow of one of the greatest playwrights in modernity. Wilson is talking to us, cheering for us, praying for us to remember– it is our story to overstand, to elevate, to preseve, to fiercely protect. I do not know that white directors approach the work with the reverence it demands, I am sure they do not approach it from the same ground, I understand their attraction to the work– some of the best theater ever written in America, however perhaps a true overstanding of the work would convey the necessity of diretors who unabashedly stand on the same ground as Wilson to properly honor the work and its ambitious intention. It is said: Gnatola ma no kpon sia, eyenabe adelan to kpo mi sena. (Ewe-mina)
A moins ce que le lion ait son propre narrateur, le chasseur aura toujours la belle part de l’histoire. (French)
Until the lion has his or her own storyteller, the hunter will always have the best part of the story. (English)Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter (Igbo, Nigeria). Until lions start writing down their own stories, the hunters will always be the heroes (Kenya and Zimbabwe). In short when lions have guns the story of the hunt is told differently. Wilson is our lion with a gun. The stories are not to be told by hunters.
Walking with Wilson,
By August Wilson
“I don’t want to hire nobody just ’cause they’re black.” Eddie Murphy said that to me. We were discussing the possibility of Paramount Pictures purchasing the rights to my play “Fences.” I said I wanted a black director for the film. My response [to his remark] was immediate. “Neither do I,” I said.
What Mr. Murphy meant I am not sure. I meant I wanted to hire somebody talented, who understood the play and saw the possibilities of the film, who would approach my work with the same amount of passion and measure of respect with which I approach it, and who shared the cultural responsibilities of the characters.
That was more than three years ago. I have not talked to Mr. Murphy about the subject since. Paramount did purchase rights to make the film in 1987. What I thought…
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