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WYPR Arts

Wilson's 'Century Cycle' Runs at Kennedy Center

When August Wilson died in 2005, he left behind a masterpiece known as the Century Cycle — a series of 10 plays documenting the African-American experience in different decades of the 20th century.

The works received the highest praise, including a Tony award and two Pulitzer Prizes. For the first time, audiences will be able to see the cycle presented under one roof.

Starting this month, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., will present staged readings of each play. The monthlong celebration will present the plays in chronological order starting with Gem of the Ocean, the tale of a man who visits a 287-year-old former slave named Aunt Ester at her home in Pittsburgh. The play mixes reality and mysticism as audiences follow the man on a journey to a place called the City of Bones.

Ari Shapiro spoke with actors and the artistic directors of the event about staging Wilson's famous work.

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