The emotional trials and tribulations of Black taxi cab drivers during the post civil rights era will come alive on Feb. 9 as Morgan State University’s Theatre Morgan presents “Jitney.”
The play explores the lives of several African-American taxi drivers living in Pittsburgh during the 1970s. Dwelling in an era fresh off the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam war, the “jitneys,” or unlicensed chauffeurs chiefly served the Hill District–a Black neighborhood where traditional taxis would not travel. The production was directed by Theatre Morgan’s Shirley Basfield Dunlap.
Penned by late playwright August Wilson, “Jitney” was a part of Wilson’s series of 10 plays that was entitled the “Pittsburgh Cycle.” Each was set in a different decade and depicted the comic and tragic aspects of the African American experience in the 20th century. Wilson ultimately received two Pulitzer Prizes for the series.
“Sesame Street” star Roscoe Orman portrays Becker, the cab company boss in the production. In addition to appearing on the PBS series for over 35 years, Orman has also appeared on “All My Children,” “Law and Order,” “Sex and the City” and “The Wire,” among many other T.V. shows and films.
“Having Mr. Orman work with our students and alumni as a guest artist in residence for four weeks represents an awesome opportunity for them to participate in a signature production with an actor of his caliber,” Dunlap said in a statement.
Dunlap previously directed Orman in the production of “FENCES” at the Madison Repertory Theatre in Wisconsin.
Seven performances are scheduled including a discounted morning m2atinee on Feb. 9 and an evening preview at 7:30 p.m. Each matinee will be followed by a post performance discussion. Additionally, Theatre Morgan will also provide study guides for teachers to use before and after their students view the play.
“Jitney” will premiere on Feb. 9 at the Gilliam Concert Hall in the Murphy Arts Center and will run through Feb. 12. Tickets are $10-$25. For more information and to purchase tickets, call: 443-885-4440.