Local history, legendary language, and blockbuster performances take center stage this June in Pittsburgh Public Theater’s highly anticipated production of August Wilson’s Two Trains Running at the O’Reilly Theater, June 1-19, 2022.
Directed by The Public’s Resident Director Justin Emeka, the cast features Melessie Clark, Brian D. Coats, Ananias J. Dixon, Justin Emeka, Wali Jamal, Brenden Peifer, and Brian Starks creating a masterful ensemble. Two Trains Running is presented by Highmark.
In 1969, as the civil rights movement ignites across America, Memphis faces a battle of his own in Pittsburgh where the city wants to raze his Hill District restaurant for an urban renewal project.
Theater goers will be drawn to the drama as the play begins and curious to see more on how the story unfolds. The setting takes places in Memphis’ diner during the entire play, and we are introduced to a few characters who have different stories but are more similar than they think. Each character takes a leap of faith to find what they seek, from love to luck and justice.
The story continues to show the characters’ struggle among finding stable jobs, street demonstrations, racial justice and overall bonding with each other for the support they need day after day. I felt connected to the characters and wanted to see each one succeed and find what they’re looking for in their lives. The actors did a wonderful job bringing the characters to life, especially in the intimate theater setting at the O’Reilly Theater. Overall, the story reminds of us of our country’s historical events, struggles and seeing how far we’ve come, plus what we need to work on for a kinder future, and one that has opportunity for everyone regardless of race.
The creative team is comprised of Justin Emeka as Director, Richard Morris, Jr. as Scenic Designer, Alethia Moore-Del Monaco as Costume Designer, Sherrice Mojgani as Lighting Designer, Angela Baughman as Sound Designer, and Ruby Fludzinski as Assistant Director. Thomas Dieter is the Production Stage Manager and Ashley Southers and Taylor Meszaros are the Assistant Production Stage Managers.
Tuesdays 7:00 pm
Wednesdays 8:00 pm
Thursdays 2:00 pm* & 8:00 pm
Fridays 8:00 pm
Saturdays 2:00 pm* & 8:00 pm
Sundays 2:00 pm & 7:00 pm*
Complete performance schedule is available at ppt.org/twotrains
Tickets start at $32 and are available online at ppt.org/twotrains, by phone at 412.316.1600 or by visiting the O’Reilly Theater Box Office. Discounts for groups of 10 or more are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. 26 and younger/full-time students are just $16.50 with promo code HOTTIX. (Valid ID required.) Because of the intimate seating set-up and the in-the-round staging of our productions, masks are required inside the O’Reilly Theater.
Additional Events at the theater
Pittsburgh Public Theater will host a series of events to complement to production of Two Trains Running.After the final performance on June 19, the company will host a Juneteeth celebration on the stage. Additional events include:
August Wilson Archives Panel Discussions | Sunday, June 5 | 5:00-5:30pm, following the matinee performance
The University of Pittsburgh Library System recently acquired the archive of native Pittsburgh playwright August Wilson, which will open for research use in January 2023. Staff from Archives & Special Collections will talk about their experience working with the archive and what types of material it contains, especially as it relates to Wilson’s play, Two Trains Running. The archive not only documents all ten of his American Century Cycle Plays, but also several unpublished writing projects and poetry. Staff will highlight specific content in the August Wilson Archive, such as his extensive writing notepads. They will also discuss preservation challenges and the many ways that various audiences will be able to engage with the archive.
Actor Talkback | Sunday, June 12 | 5:00-5:30pm, following the matinee performance
Director of Education & Engagement Parag S. Gohel will facilitate an audience-centered discussion with the actors. Fielding questions from the audience, he will engage the actors in a dialogue about their processes, experiences, and insights they gained while preparing for their roles and the discoveries they made that enriched to their performances.
The Meaning of Juneteenth and August Wilson’s 100-year journey to Freedom | Friday, June 17 | 2:00pm | Part of TCG National Conference
Two Trains Running Director Justin Emeka and actor Wali Jamal will participate in a panel conversation on what Juneteenth represents and share thoughts about it recently becoming a national holiday. Panel members will then move on to discussing how August Wilson’s ten plays represent the long journey and struggle for Black people still searching for freedom in the 20th century and the role art and theater continues to play in achieving personal and collective freedoms.
The panel will include Caroline Jackson-Smith, Oberlin College (moderator); Wali Jamal, Pittsburgh-based Actor; Justin Emeka Pittsburgh Public Theater Resident Director/Oberlin College; Dr. Cristal Chanelle Truscott, Northwestern University; and E.G. Bailey, Minneapolis-based Director/Artist.
Juneteenth Celebration | Sunday, June 19 | 5:00-8:00pm, following the matinee performance
Pittsburgh Public Theater is excited to honor Juneteenth as a true celebration. At the closing of the final performance of Two Trains Running, the audience is invited to feast and break bread with the cast, crew, and company. Catered by Sugar x Butter, the Summer BBQ menu will include Honey Fried Chicken Tenders, Baby Back Ribs, Black Eyed Pea Salad, Mac N Cheese Bowls, Sweet Corn on the Cob, Coconut Cake Slices, Chocolate Chip Cookies, as well as vegetarian and vegan options. More than fantastic food and company, the celebration with feature the incomparable song stylings of Etta Cox and her quartet.
Disclaimer: I was provided a press pass to attend the show, and all opinions are my own. Photo credit: Pittsburgh Public Theater