August Wilson’s celebrated play “Two Trains Running” directed by Nada Vaughn Oct 12-22 at Clayton Community Theatre

CCT celebrates 20 years

Clayton Community Theatre (CCT – www.placeseveryone.org) will open its 2017-2018 season with “Two Trains Running” by August Wilson, directed by Nada Vaughn. Performances: October 12-22, 2017 (Thursdays-Sundays) at Washington University South Campus Theatre, 6501 Clayton Rd, Clayton MO 63117. This is CCT’s 20th season. Tickets/more info: visit www.placeseveryone.org or call 314-721-9228. Financial assistance for this project has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

Set in the city of Pittsburgh, PA, in the Hill District, in 1969, “Two Trains Running” is a slice-of-life, ensemble drama by celebrated African American playwright August Wilson (1945-2005). It is part of Wilson’s 10-play Pittsburgh Cycle (aka American Century Cycle), each set in a different decade, addressing the struggles of African-American families.

“Two Trains Running” is the second August Wilson play to be directed by Nada Vaughn for CCT. The first was “The Piano Lesson,” in 2015; that production was nominated for 10 Theatre Mask Awards by the St. Louis nonprofit ARTS FOR LIFE.

The play premiered on Broadway in New York City in 1992, with Lawrence Fishburne originating the character of Memphis. It was honored with four awards, including a Tony Award, and nominated for five others, including three Tonys and a Pulitzer.

“Two Trains Running” unfolds amid the dramatic political and racial tensions of the day. Martin Luther King had been assassinated. The black power movement was taking shape. During this time of urban unrest and economic turmoil, Pittsburgh undertook an “urban renewal” program that would result in devastating blight and displacement. The diner in which the play is set, and its owner, Memphis Lee, are about to fall victim to this. The city is trying to acquire his property, and Memphis is fighting for a fair price.

As is typical of Wilson’s work, the story occurs in an everyday setting – Memphis’s diner – and is peopled by everyday characters: seven African Americans, all regulars at the diner, whose words, struggles and observations reveal something remarkable and powerful. “August Wilson made a distinctive effort to create roles for African Americans – it was the whole philosophy behind his writing,” said Nada Vaughn. “For decades, there had been no such plays and no such roles. His body of work filled a gap, and filled it eloquently. And the issues it addresses remain all too relevant today.”

Vaughn added, “People have called August Wilson the American Shakespeare because of his writing style. He is famous for sustained monologues that are at once vernacular and poetic, but the parallels to Shakespeare also include a similar kind of pacing and use of comic relief, and a characteristic rhythm and musicality.”

August Wilson monologues are so popular and powerful that they have inspired numerous regional and national performance competitions. “Two Trains Running” contains more than 20 monologues.

Nada Vaughn, director of “Two Trains Running” at CCT, has a lifelong involvement in theatre and music as performer, director, educator, producer and manager. The first production she worked on with CCT was “Oscar and Felix – A New Look at The Odd Couple” by Neil Simon, in the 2005-2006 season. Vaughn has been a Board Member since 2006 and served as President from 2007-2011. Her past directing work for CCT includes “Night Must Fall” by Emlyn Williams in 2016, “The Piano Lesson” by August Wilson in 2015, and two Agatha Christie plays: “The Unexpected Guest” in 2014 and “Black Coffee” in 2012.

Clayton Community Theatre was founded in 1998 and the 2017-2018 season will be its 20th season. On August 8, 2017, Saint Louis Limelight (stllimelight.com) published the story, “Clayton Community Theatre Celebrates 20 Years of Providing ‘Places for Everyone.’”

“Two Trains Running” at Clayton Community Theatre, October 12-22, 2015

  • Opening night: Thurs, Oct 12, 8pm
  • Fri-Sat: 8pm, Sun: 2pm
  • Washington University South Campus Theatre, 6501 Clayton Rd, Clayton MO 63110

Tickets: $12-$20
Four easy ways to acquire tickets:

Cast: Two Trains Running, directed by Nada Vaughn

  • Memphis Lee: Archie Coleman (veteran of many productions at CCT and elsewhere, recently in August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson”)
  • Holloway: Don McLendon (in CCT’s production of “To Kill a Mockingbird”)
  • Hambone: Jeremy Thomas (also in CCT’s “The Piano Lesson” with Mr. Coleman)
  • West: Jaz Tucker (in CCT’s “The Skin of our Teeth”)
  • Sterling: Erick Lindsey (making his CCT debut)
  • Wolf: Minware Tutu (making his CCT debut)
  • Risa: Jazmine Wade (in CCT’s “Inherit the Wind” and “The Women”)

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