Two Trains Running.
Before he died in 2005, August Wilson created ten plays, The Pittsburgh Cycle, chronicling the African-American experience through the prism of the Hill District. Each play represents one decade of the twentieth century. While I am shy to admit I have (until last night) read merely one of his works (Fences) by the end of the 2011-12 season I will have seen three, including Gem of the Ocean at Karamu and Radio Golf at the Play House.
Penumbra was responsible for Wilson's first professionally produced play, Black Bart and the Sacred Hills, and their relationship with Wilson remained strong throughout his life, and continues today, as the company decided following his death to produce the entire Pittsburgh Cycle, offering one or two of the works every season since 2007.
The facilities of Penumbra are very warm and welcoming, and the auditorium seats 250 but feels very intimate and close. The set for Lee's Restaurant circa 1969 was strikingly realistic.
El Ra (as he is known to his friends) was born Allen Johnson II in Cleveland. Yes, he performed for Karamu, and graduated from East Tech High, the child of a postman and a "public servant." Right out of high school - during the Vietnam War - he joined the Air Force, moving to the Twin Cities after his service.
El Razzac means "service."
See: "Radio Golf" at Cleveland Play House
Star Tribune: The Mellowing of El Ra