The Obamas date night on Broadway includes Joe Turner's Come and Gone
Watch scenes from Joe Turner's come and Gone
2 hours, 50 minutes
The Tony Party...
August Wilson's JOE TURNER'S COME AND GONE is set in a Pittsburgh boarding house in 1911. Owners Seth and Bertha Holly play host to a makeshift family of people who come to stay, some for days, some longer, during the Great Migration of the 1910s when descendants of former slaves moved in large numbers from the South toward the industrial cities of the North, seeking new jobs, new lives and new beginnings.
Among those on the move are Herald Loomis and his young daughter, Zonia. Haunted by the past, they are headed wherever the road takes them in search of the long gone Martha, Herald's wife and Zonia's mother. Herald arrives at the boarding house unsettled, dark and secretive. Seth Holly is suspicious and wants him out almost as soon as he arrives, but Bertha and the others see him differently, and by action and example, they help set him on the way to recovering his lost spirit and finding a new life.
The story is richly detailed, joyous, sad, and always hopeful. Mr. Wilson's words from the play's introduction best set the scene:
"It is August in Pittsburgh, 1911.... From the deep and the near South the sons and daughters of newly freed African slaves wander into the city. Isolated, cut off from memory.... They arrive carrying Bibles and guitars, their pockets lined with dust and fresh hope, marked men and women seeking to scrape from the narrow, crooked cobbles and the fiery blasts of the coke furnace a way of bludgeoning and shaping the malleable parts of themselves into a new identity as free men of definite and sincere worth."
August Wilson's JOE TURNER'S COME AND GONE was staged by LCT Resident Director Bartlett Sher (South Pacific, Awake and Sing!, and The Light in the Piazza) in collaboration with Michael Yeargan (sets), Catherine Zuber (costumes) and Brian MacDevitt (lighting). Previews began March 19 at the Belasco Theatre, while South Pacific continued its extended run at LCT's Beaumont.
Mr. Wilson's widow, Constanza Romero, graciously gave Lincoln Center Theater the rights to produce JOE TURNER which, she noted, "August always said was his favorite of all his plays." It's ours too.