Cincinnati Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s SEVEN GUITARS Beginning April 23

PIP_Seven Guitars

Photo by Tony Arrasmith/Arrasmith & Associates.

Blues-infused play part of Wilson’s groundbreaking American Century Cycle

CINCINNATI (April 11, 2023) – The groundbreaking work of playwright August Wilson returns to the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park April 23 with SEVEN GUITARS, presented by the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr. Foundation. Featuring live blues and lyrical dialogue, the play is part of Wilson’s award-winning American Century Cycle. (Previews take place April 23, 25 and 26; opening night is April 27.) The show runs through May 14 in the new Moe and Jack’s Place — The Rouse Theatre.

Like recent productions of Wilson’s American Century Cycle plays Jitney and Two Trains Running, SEVEN GUITARS presents an unrivaled exploration of the Black American experience in the 20th century.

Set in the summer of 1948 in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, blues music echoes through every building and creates a poignant rhythm to everyday life. A tight-knit group of friends gather together to reminisce and explore the ties that bind after the untimely death of their friend Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton – a gifted guitarist whose star was on the rise. As they do, a mystery unfolds that touches each of their lives.

“With SEVEN GUITARS, August deviates somewhat from his usual format and gives us a little twist on structure by using a flashback to help us follow the seven characters (seven guitars, so to speak)…Like always, August’s characters are rich and complicated,” explains Director Ron OJ Parson, who has directed more than 30 August Wilson plays and is one of the foremost experts of his work.

The play is among only a few by Wilson to feature live music. Characters bring blues to life, creating a soulful and emotional cadence to a story that’s already lyrical in its writing.

“SEVEN GUITARS, like Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,is about a musician,” says Parson. “I like to take that aspect to another level in the way I direct them. Being into blues and jazz myself, I use that to the fullest extent. Music is so important in the culture and world of the play.”
Considered one of the greatest American playwrights, Wilson and his Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning body of work have opened doors to innumerable revelations and conversations about the Black experience in the U.S. His chronicling and contributions to Black culture have reached across generations, races and national boundaries, inviting readers and audiences across the globe to examine at ground level the despair generated by poverty and racism, while simultaneously celebrating Black America.


Saran Bakari (Ruby); Bryant Bentley (Red Carter); Kevin Brown (Hedley); Kierra Bunch (Vera Dotsun); Marsha Estell (Louise); Dimonte Henning (Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton); Vincent Jordan (Canewell)

Ron OJ Parson (Director); Shaun L. Motley (Set Designer); Yvonne L. Miranda (Costume Designer); Jason Fassl (Lighting Designer); Andre J. Pluess (Sound Designer); Joe Foust (Fight Director); Cristin Carole (Movement/Intimacy Consultant); Jonathan Hetler (Casting Director); Brooke Redler (Stage Manager); Andrea L. Shell (Second Stage Manager); Co-production with Milwaukee Repertory Theater.


Tickets begin at $35. Preview performances take place April 23 at 2 p.m. and. April 25- 26 at 7:30 p.m.  Opening night is April 27 at 7:30 p.m. Performances will take place on Tuesday-Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. A weekday matinee will be offered on May 10 at 1 p.m.   To purchase tickets or for more information, call the Playhouse Box Office at 513-421-3888 (toll-free in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana at 800-582-3208) or visit Patrons who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech disabled: dial 711 to connect to the Box Office via Ohio Relay Services.


Stay after select performances for a behind-the-scenes discussion with members of the artistic team.

  • Sun, April 30 at 2 p.m.
  • Thu, May 4, at 7:30 p.m.
  • Wed, May 10 at 7:30 p.m.


August Wilson’s Seven Guitars is suitable for adult and older teenage audiences. This landmark script contains adult language (including the n-word) as it explores the tunes of life for the story’s characters. Through poetic dialogue and blues melodies, they speak frankly and deeply about hardship, violence, death and racism. The show runs approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes, with one intermission.

Production Sponsor is the Carol Anne and Ralph V. Haile, Jr. Foundation.  Artist Sponsors are Geiler, BHDP, 19/19 Investment Counsel, AAA/Provident Travel and Diane and Carl Iseman. Season Sponsors is Schueler Group. The Rosenthal Family Foundation is the season sponsor of new work.

The Playhouse is supported by the generosity of almost 40,000 contributors to the ArtsWave Community campaign. The Ohio Arts Council helps fund the Playhouse with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The Playhouse also receives funding from the Shubert Foundation.



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