Lou Bellamy, Artistic Director of the acclaimed Penumbra Theatre, will direct the Cleveland Play House production of Radio Golf, the Tony Award®-nominated finale of playwright August Wilson's unprecedented ten-play cycle chronicling African-American life in the 20th century. Bellamy has been described as the foremost living interpreter of work of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson, and his Penumbra Theatre is proud to have produced more of Wilson's plays than any other theatre in the world. Radio Golf, a co-production with Indiana Repertory Theatre, will begin in the Allen Theatre at PlayhouseSquare on Friday, February 10 and run through Sunday, March 4, 2012. Tickets are available at PlayhouseSquare ticket office by calling 216-241-6000 or online at www.clevelandplayhouse.com. Radio Golf is presented with support from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture and the Ohio Arts Council.
Set in Pittsburgh in 1997, the Hill District has fallen into blight -- a crime-ridden ghetto full of condemned abandoned buildings. Harmond Wilks is a bright, engaging, Ivy-League educated man who grew up in "the Hill." He has returned to work in his father's real estate company and is running for mayor. The idealistic young politician and his ambitious college friend Roosevelt Hicks are organizing an urban renewal in the neighborhood. They have bought up a block of abandoned properties and are just weeks away from demolishing them to pave the way for a structure of chain stores, apartments and condos. When Elder Joseph Barlow disputes their claim of the rights on one of the houses, it sets off a storm of controversy that may jeopardize the project and Wilks' mayoral campaign, as well as a very real question about the value of heritage compared to the necessity of progress.
This phenomenon is epitomized in Radio Golf by Harmond Wilks and Roosevelt Hicks, real estate developers who, to further their personal ambitions, are preparing to tear down the last vestiges of the historical African American presence in Pittsburgh. The address of Aunt Ester's residence, 1839 Wylie, is an allusion to the historical irony of their planned demolition. In 1839 there was an outbreak of racial violence in Pittsburgh as white residents of the city, who resented the growth of black populations in the North, did considerable damage to the city's black neighborhoods by burning and tearing down houses. In Radio Golf, set a century and a half later, this destruction is now being planned by African Americans themselves.
Cleveland Play House will be sponsoring events during the run of Radio Golf that use this August Wilson play as a way of connecting patrons to the challenges African-Americans face every day in advancing their civic and corporate careers. In cooperation with the Commission on Economic Inclusion (a program of the Greater Cleveland Partnership), "Business of Progress" seminars will be taking place at several large corporate employers such as KeyBank and Lubrizol. In addition, CPH will present in partnership with CSU Black Studies Program and Howard A. Mims African American Cultural Center several events billed as "August Wilson in Spring Semester," a series of panel discussions and colloquiums about the legacy of August Wilson.
Leading the cast is James Craven, who will play the role of Harmond Wilks. Craven is a longtime member of Penumbra Theatre Company and has performed as on Broadway in The Gospel at Colonus, and is the 2011 recipient of the Ten Chimneys Foundation Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship.
The role of Roosevelt Hicks will be performed by actor David Alan Anderson, who previously appeared at CPH in A Raisin in the Sun (2008), also directed by Lou Bellamy. Regional credits include Indiana Repertory Theatre, Penumbra Theatre Company, Guthrie Theater, Arizona Theatre Company, Kansas City Rep, and Actors Theatre of Louisville.