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Feb. 11: Carnegie Mellon's School of Drama Presents August Wilson's "The Piano Lesson"


Eric Sloss                          

Carnegie Mellon's School of Drama Presents
August Wilson's "The Piano Lesson"

PITTSBURGH — Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama presents August Wilson's "The Piano Lesson" Feb. 21 through March 1 in the university's Philip Chosky Theater.  Elizabeth Van Dyke, renowned New York-based director, actress and Wilson interpreter, will direct this enthralling struggle between two siblings set in Depression-era Pittsburgh.

piano lesson"We have waited quite a while for circumstances to be right to allow us to commit to a major staging of Wilson in the School of Drama. Happily that time has come," said Elizabeth Bradley, head of the School of Drama.  "Selecting one of Wilson's Pittsburgh plays gives the design, creative team and acting company a unique opportunity to research a play in the city in which it is set. Under Van Dyke's authoritative and sensitive guidance, students will relate to this extraordinary dramatic material in compelling ways."

Wilson's Pulitzer-Prize-winning drama documents the conflict between Boy Willie and his sister Berniece by examining their relationship to a piano that has great significance in the story of their family, as well as to one another. Boy Willie wishes to sell the instrument and use the proceeds to purchase the farmland where his ancestors worked as slaves, while Berniece wants to keep the piano because of the strong memories and sense of family that it evokes. "The Piano Lesson" remains a complex allegory of how African-Americans confront their own tumultuous and fractured histories. William A. Henry III, the late theatre critic for Time magazine, called the piano "the most potent symbol in American drama since Laura Wingfield's Glass Menagerie.

For more background on "The Piano Lesson" listen to a podcast with dramaturg and senior Breanna Zwart, whose research carried her to Pittsburgh's Hill District as well as to many of the places Wilson described in his play, visit

Tickets are $22-$25.  Discounts are available for students and seniors. For additional information about ticket purchases and the upcoming season, contact the School of Drama box office at 412-268-2407 between noon and 5 p.m., Monday - Friday. Tickets can be purchased online at

For more information on the School of Drama or the College of Fine Arts, visit or contact Eric Sloss at 412-268-5765 or

Photo: "The Piano Lesson" cast members (L to R) Jon Michael Reese (Boy Willie), Michaela Watkins (Berniece/Grace), Taylor Whitley (Maretha) and Larry Powell (Doaker). Photo by Joshua Franzos.