Pittsburgh Playwrights’ ‘Joe Turner’s Come and Gone’ is Here and Now at August Wilson House

August Wilson's 'Joe Turner's Come and Gone' is set in the early 1900's in the Hill District.

August Wilson’s ‘Joe Turner’s Come and Gone’ is set in the early 1900’s in the Hill District.

Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater company is continuing a wonderful, late summer tradition of recent years—the staging of an August Wilson play outdoors at the August Wilson House in the Hill District. This year’s Wilsonian treat is Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. The play will be onstage from August 5 through September 10.

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone is part of Pittsburgh native August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle of 10 plays that chronicle the lives of African Americans in America at different periods of time over a century. The Tony nominated play, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, is set in Pittsburgh’s Hill District in 1911 and examines the lives of a few freed former enslaved African Americans in the North. It shows that although their slavery has ended, racism and discrimination continue. 

The character Joe Turner is referred to in the play, but not seen. He was the brother of the Tennessee governor, Pete Turner, at that time and would often press Black prisoners into work gangs for 7 years under minor or trumped up charges. When someone would ask about one of  those prisoners, the reply was frequently, “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.”

The production and cast for these performances are always magical. Joe Turner’s Come and Gone is directed by Mark Clayton Southers, Founder and Producing Artistic Director. Southers was a protégé of Wilson’s. For tickets and more information visit Pittsburgh Playwrights website. Most performances will be outdoors at August Wilson House, 1727 Bedford Avenue in the Lower Hill. Performances on days where rain is likely will be inside Madison Arts Center, 3401 Milwaukee Street in the Upper Hill. Patrons will be notified by email when this happens, and notices will also appear on Pittsburgh Playwrights’ website.

Children are part of the storyline in 'Joe Turner's Come and Gone.'

Children are part of the storyline in ‘Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.’

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Rick Handler

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