Pittsburgh playwright and stage director Mark Clayton Southers has been selected as artistic director of Short North Stage Theatre’s August Wilson Festival.
Southers, founder and producing artistic director of the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company, was the first to produce and do scenic design all of Wilson’s 10 plays in the order in which they debuted on Broadway. He has directed Wilson’s work at American Stage Theatre in Jacksonville, Fla., and the Human Race Theatre in Dayton, Ohio.
“The idea of doing an August Wilson Festival in Columbus truly began with Mark,” said Short North Stage Board President Peter Yockel. “He directed a critically acclaimed production of ‘Passing Strange’ for us in the spring of 2013 and made the suggestion that we try one of Wilson’s plays at our theater.
“That idea never left my thoughts and when we had the opportunity to go after some significant funding for the festival, there was no question that Mark was going to play a significant role. We wouldn’t be doing this work without him as the artistic director.”
Yockel further explained, “Mark is the artistic director for the festival and as such is a resource to all of our strategic partners in the project. Beyond that, Mark will direct three of the shows for Short North Stage—a reading of ‘Gem of the Ocean’ in January 2016 to kick off the Festival, a full production of ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ in June and a full production of ‘Fences’ which will open our 2016-17 season.”
Short North Stage Executive Producer Rick Gore said, “Mark’s depth of experience with the works of Wilson and his intimate knowledge as director and/or producer of each of the 10 plays in Wilson’s Pittsburgh Century Cycle make him the perfect artistic director for this project. Moreover as a resident of the Hill District in Pittsburgh, where all but one of the plays are set, he has the cultural and historical perspective needed to illuminate these works.
“His experience as former Artistic Director of Theatre Initiatives for the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh adds to Mark’s knowledge and insight into the influences that steered Wilson’s artistic vision.
Finally, his work with Short North Stage on ‘Passing Strange’ gives Mark a familiarity with the Columbus theatrical scene and its actors,” Gore added.
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