Here's our fourth B of August Wilson's Four Bs: ROMARE BEARDEN. Acting apprentice Jake Simonds provides his insight, below:
Romare Bearden has a split legacy. On the one hand, there is Bearden the muralist. Influenced by Diego Rivera, and inspired by what he saw around him, Bearden especially in his early years created large public works. On the other hand, there is the Bearden you'll find in museums. Ever in touch with the great traditions in art, Bearden's work became increasingly abstract in his later career, with an emphasis on collage. Sometimes these legacies collide, like when the city of Pittsburg got a Bearden mural that sat in a scheduled-for-demolishion subway station appraised--and found it was worth $15 million dollars.
August Wilson loved Bearden for both sides of his legacy. "Bearden's art in particular has been influencing me because of the manner in which he treats black life--in all of its richness and fullness in a formal artistic language, and he connects it to the great traditions in art, whether they are Dutch or whatever. But his subject matter is the black experience in America."
Piano Lesson (the painting) inspired THE PIANO LESSON, but in a somewhat roundabout way. Wilson says what first intrigued him about the painting was the relationship between the two women. The one at the piano is a child, and the other woman, grown, leans over her. Wilson set out to write a play with about these women. In writing, however, the scope of the story grew to dwarf the frame of Bearden's painting. The piano became a central character, and the play's central question became one of legacy.
Don't miss THE PIANO LESSON, now running through November 16! -- get your tickets here.