by Martin Brady
The Piano Lesson
When: Jan. 18-27
Where: Lipscomb University Shamblin Theater, 1 University Park Dr.
Nashville is no stranger to the epic plays of the late August Wilson — they’ve been produced locally by college and community theaters and major professional companies like American Negro Playwright Theatre and Tennessee Repertory Theatre. Before he died in 2005 at the age of 60, Wilson completed his Pittsburgh Cycle, a series of plays that covered the African-American experience in every decade of the 20th century, with some of the works featuring interrelated characters.
Interestingly, Wilson did not write the plays in consecutive order, but instead jumped around: He crafted the ’70s-based Jitney first in 1982, and completed the cycle with the ’90s-based Radio Golf on the year of his death. His labors earned him the Pulitzer Prize for drama twice — once for The Piano Lesson, which Circle Players mounts here with Tamiko Robinson and Rashad Rayford, two thespians blessed with the serious chops it takes to tackle this challenging 1930s family drama. The director is J.P. Schuffman.