Richard Wesley, author of The Richard Wesley Play Anthology, will be taking his politically driven play, Autumn, to the Billie Holiday Theatre in Brooklyn, New York. This will be Wesley’s first full-length play in over 27 years.
Autumn is a political drama that explores the conflicts that arise when aspirations collide across a generational divide marked by sharply different political agendas. The concept comes from Wesleys observation of the evolution of Black politicians against a changing political landscape.
Although Wesley has not had a full-length play in 27 years he is no stranger to the stage. His stage works include: The Black Terror, The Talented Tenth, and the Broadway production, The Mighty Gents. He’s also a noted screenwriter for classic films that star Sidney Poitier including: Uptown Saturday Night, Let’s Do It Again, and Mandela DeKlerk along with Native Son starring oprah Winfrey and Akosua Busia. He has write for televisions series as well.
What a thrill to return to The Billie Holiday Theatre and to Brooklyn with the New York City premiere of Autumn. This is a timely work that raises questions about the responsibilities politicians have to the public, an especially important issue in this age of hyper-partisan politics and legislative stalemate.
Autumn will be directed by award-winning director Water Dallas. The cast includes Jerome Preston Bates (Seven Guitars, Stickfly), Terria Joseph (Empire, Cornerstone), Brent Langdon (House of Cards, The Program), Dorian Missick (Southland, Deliver Me from Evil), Count Stovall (A Streetcar Name Desire, Driving Miss Daisy), and Pauletta Washington (Beloved, The Watsons Go to Birmingham).
The Richard Wesley Play Anthology featured, in addition to Autumn, The Black Terror, The Sirens, The Mighty Gents, and The Talented Tenth. Each of the plays included in this anthology was born out of the idea of the public thinker, and what Arthur Miller would refer to as the importance of an individual conscience – as well as the belief that each generation must give back, must inform and inspire the generation that follows. No people – and certainly not the African Americans still striving and struggling in the 21st century – can thrive if they fail to adhere to that simple idea.
The play will run from October 21st to November 6th. For more information on the show and to buy tickets, click here.
Richard Wesley recently held a book signing and discussion over at The Drama Book Shop in New York, NY. He spoke about his anthology, The Richard Wesley Play Anthology, and what brought him to put it all together. Learn more by watching the video below and let us know your thoughts in the comment section!
The Richard Wesley Play Anthology includes five full-length plays that collectively outline a cultural history of black America in the post-Civil Rights era, from the late 20th century through the first decades of the 21st.
Black Terror looks at the radical politics of the Black Power era; The Sirens, the destabilization of black familial and social life in the early 1970s; The Mighty Gents, the destructiveness of “black macho” in the late 1970s; The Talented Tenth, the midlife crisis and the end of idealism in the black middle class in the early 1980s; and Autumn, the new generational paradigm in black urban politics in the early 21st century.
Each of the plays included in The Richard Wesley Play Anthology was born out of the idea of the public thinker, and what Arthur Miller would refer to as the importance of an individual conscience – as well as the belief that each generation must give back, must inform and inspire the generation that follows. It also features an introduction by the playwright that addresses the emergence, growth and evolution of black consciousness and the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and early 1970s, and serves as a chronicle of Wesley’s artistic evolution as a writer who was both a witness and a foot soldier during those turbulent times.
As Wesley writes in his introduction, “The Stage should be seen as a laboratory where the belief systems, the mores, the myths, the histories and strivings of a people may be presented in full dimension, so that audiences might judge for themselves what is right, what is wrong, what needs to be changed, and what needs to be left alone.