Tag Archives: August Wilson

Gem of KCPA

Written by Ashleigh Cox

Ticket for Thursday’s performance

Gem of the Ocean is a play written by August Wilson that was performed at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday night. The characters of Aunt Ester, Black Mary, Citizen, and Eli entertained the audience and the set gave the story an almost eerie mood.

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Freedom and the Odds Forced Against It

Written by Raymond Diaz

Gem of the Ocean is a production brought to you by Krannert Center of the Performing Arts. It chronicles an early period in Pittsburgh where a character by the name of Aunt Ester is said to have ‘supernatural’ abilities in which she is capable of cleansing one’s soul. Throughout the play we are introduced to this idea and follow along as we see her come to understand what the newcomer Citizen Barlow has to offer, and his affect on their community as a whole. All the while reeling us in and using their stage to connect us with their story.

https://krannertcenter.com/events/gem-ocean

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An Ocean’s Worth of Talent

The Krannert Center takes the audience through the journey of August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean.

written by Allison Spillane

The ticket in!!!!

August Wilson is a heavy-hitter when it comes to play writing, so I was very interested to see one in person. Almost all of my experience with theater has been contemporary plays, so seeing something rooted in a little more history was exciting. Furthermore, this rendition of Gem of the Ocean featured one of Allen’s beloved RA’s! With all of this expectation, I was surprised with how this show still impressed me. Every aspect of it was so well thought out in a way that made for an astounding cohesive show. 

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What a GEM!

Written by: Benjamin Tan

This article is for August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean

The stage setup from this performance was phenomenal. When I enter the theatre, the setup was already being displayed for the audience to admire. I myself was very amazed by all the intricate details of the setup.

The rustic wood panels at the side and the long dark wood tiles bring out that warm homely feeling. All the props that were used from the chairs, lamps, windows, doors, drawers, and potteries all aided in bringing the audience back to the past of the 1900s.

GEM of the Ocean Stage Setup

The costume also aided in the same way. The gents were wearing tuxedos, vests and a top hat and the ladies were wearing long printed skirts up to their waist and wearing a bandana over their head.

The one prop that was very significant was the paper boat. The entire performance was building on that paper boat. It brought everyone on a journey to the unknown, creating such anticipation to the audience of what is gonna happen next.

Actors’ fine costume for the performance

One character that I would like to describe will be Caesar. The main villain of the show. He was a man of his principles which were two things. Family is everything and standing on what is written on the law.

He believes that whoever abides in the law, is deemed worthy and whoever does not shall be punishes. With this narrow mindset, Caesar shot Black Mary’s good friend just because the friend hurt his right leg causing him to limp.

Caesar was so saturated and consumed by the law that his own conscience was totally gone! He did not feel any remorse of what he has done. This led to his own sister, Black Mary telling him straight to his face that she does not know him anymore.

This superb character really taught me that not everything should go by the book but there has to be a balance between abiding of the law and holding on to your conscience.

Caesar making his stand that everything got to be by the book.

The City of Bones scene was STUPENDOUS. Even before they step into the scene, they are already in character behind the door, shaking vigorously their wrists and ankles. The energy that they put in every move that they made had so much gust and momentum and as they synchronize the tribe beat with their “bones”. I love the props that they use such as red ribbons to symbolize fire and the wooden sticks to add a stronger sound to the beat. It depicted them to be souls being revived from their skeleton giving an eerie feeling which was exactly what was needed for that scene.

The Souls of the Skeleton being Summoned during the City of Bones

This entire performance really brought me back the past to experience, understand and feel how it was like in the African American community in the 1900s.

Gem of the Ocean

By Rachel Yao

Gem of the Ocean is a play that combines both acting and dancing to tell a story that takes place in the early 1900s in Pittsburgh.

A picture of my ticket with the stage setup in the background, taken before the play began.
The stage before the play began, portraying an old house.

As I entered the theater and walked to my seat, I analyzed the stage set up. The cool, dim lights gave the house a cold feeling. The house was empty and the background was a picture of snowy mountains. The wooden walls or borders were of an ashy dark wood, which made the house seem warn down and old. Once the play began, the lights inside the house lit up, creating a warm and rusty environment. The characters in the play wore a variety of outfits. Women wore blouses with long skirts that reached their ankles. Some men wore white shirts similar to tuxedo shirts, long pants with suspenders, long trench coats, and hats. Others, like the sheriff, wore a suit to portray wealth.

One character I found interesting was Citizen Barlow. The other characters have mentioned a man who stole a bucket of nails multiple times, and no one knew who it was. However, when talking to Aunt Ester, Citizen confesses by pulling out a bucket of nails from his bag. In the beginning of the play, we see Citizen desperately trying to get money and did not take responsibility for his actions. Yet, throughout the first part of the play, we see Citizen’s character development. He confessed what he kept to himself, listened to Aunt Ester’s advice, and began to seek for a better life.

A photo of outside Colwell Playhouse I took before entering the theater.

Link for more information on Gem of the Ocean: https://krannertcenter.com/events/gem-ocean