Gem of the Ocean

By August Wilson, Directed by Chuck Smith

January 22 - February 27 in the Albert Theatre

Tensions flare into riots across Pittsburgh's Hill District as chaos theatens a city desperate for freedom. It's 1904, the dawn of the new century—yet slavery's shadow looms large. There is solace to be found at the home of 285-year-old Ester Tyler, keeper and transmitter of African American history and cleanser of souls. When a suspicious traveler appears at her door in search of a new life, Aunt Ester guides him on a journey of spiritual awakening. Don't miss this major revival of the play that begins August Wilson's epic 10-play American Century Cycle—on the stage where it premiered in 2003.


Digital Press Kit

Dowload the Gem of the Ocean Digital Press Kit here.


Press Releases

January 27, 2022: Photo & Video Release for *Gem of the Ocean*

June 9, 2021: Announcing the 2021/2022 Homecoming Season



Gem of the Ocean

  • Gem_01

    (L-R) Lisa Gaye Dixon (AUNT ESTER) and James A. Williams (SOLLY TWO KINGS) in August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean.

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  • Gem_02

    (L-R) Sydney Charles (BLACK MARY), Kelvin Roston, Jr. (CAESER) and Sharif Atkins (CITIZEN BARLOW) in August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean

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  • Gem_03

    (L-R) Sydney Charles (BLACK MARY) and Sharif Atkins (CITIZEN BARLOW) in August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean

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  • Gem_04

    (L-R) James A. Williams (SOLLY TWO KINGS), A.C. Smith (ELI), Sharif Atkins (CITIZEN BARLOW), Lisa Gaye Dixon (AUNT ESTER), Sydney Charles (BLACK MARY) in August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean.

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  • Gem_05

    (L-R) Sharif Atkins (CITIZEN BARLOW) and Sydney Charles (BLACK MARY) in August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean. 

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  • Gem_06

    (L-R) A.C. Smith (ELI), Kelvin Roston Jr. (CAESER), James A. Williams (SOLLY TWO KINGS), Sydney Charles (BLACK MARY) and Sharif Atkins (CITIZEN BARLOWE) in August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean.

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  • Gem_07

    (L-R) Sydney Charles (BLACK MARY) and Gary Houston (RUTHERFORD SELIG) in August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean. 

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  • 8x10 Gem
    8x10 Gem

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  • August Wilson, Playwright
    August Wilson, Playwright

    August Wilson (Playwright, 1945-2005) authored Gem of the OceanJoe Turner’s Come and GoneMa Rainey’s Black BottomThe Piano LessonSeven GuitarsFencesTwo Trains RunningJitneyKing Hedley II and Radio Golf. These works explore the heritage and experience of African Americans, decade by decade, over the course of the 20th century. Goodman Theatre was the first in the country to have produced every play in Wilson’s cycle. In 2003, Wilson made his professional stage debut in his one-man show How I Learned What I Learned. Wilson’s work garnered many awards, including Pulitzer Prizes for Fences (1987) and The Piano Lesson (1990); a Tony Award for Fences; Great Britain’s Olivier Award for Jitney; as well as seven New York Drama Critics Circle Awards for Ma Rainey’s Black BottomFencesJoe Turner’s Come and GoneThe Piano LessonTwo Trains RunningSeven Guitars and Jitney. Additionally, the cast recording of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom received a 1985 Grammy Award and Wilson received a 1995 Emmy Award nomination for his screenplay adaptation of The Piano Lesson. Wilson’s early works include the one-act plays The JanitorRecycleThe Coldest Day of the YearMalcolm XThe Homecoming and the musical satire Black Bart and the Sacred Hills. Wilson received many fellowships and awards, including Rockefeller and Guggenheim Fellowships in Playwriting, the Whiting Writers’ Award, the 2003 Heinz Award, a 1999 National Humanities Medal by the President of the United States and numerous honorary degrees from colleges and universities, as well as the only high school diploma ever issued by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. He was an alumnus of New Dramatists, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a 1995 inductee into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. October 16, 2005, Broadway renamed the theater located at 245 West 52nd Street the August Wilson Theatre. Wilson was born and raised in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and lived in Seattle, Washington, at the time of his death. He is survived by his two daughters, Sakina Ansari and Azula Carmen Wilson, and his wife, costume designer Constanza Romero.

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  • Chuck Smith, Director
    Chuck Smith, Director

    Chuck Smith (Director) is a member of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees and is Goodman Theatre’s Resident Director. He is also a resident director at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe in Sarasota, Florida. Goodman credits include the Chicago premieres of Objects in the Mirror; Pullman Porter Blues; By the Way, Meet Vera Stark; Race; The Good Negro; Proof and The Story; the world premieres of By the Music of the Spheres and The Gift Horse; James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner, which transferred to Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company, where it won the Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) Award for Best Direction; A Raisin in the SunBlues for an Alabama Sky; August Wilson’s Two Trains Running and Ma Rainey’s Black BottomAin’t Misbehavin’; the 1993 to 1995 productions of A Christmas CarolCrumbs From the Table of JoyVivisections from a Blown Mind and The Meeting. He served as dramaturg for the Goodman’s world-premiere production of August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean. He directed the New York premiere of Knock Me a Kiss and The Hooch for the New Federal Theatre and the world premiere of Knock Me a Kiss at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater, where his other directing credits include Master Harold... and the BoysHomeDame Lorraine and Eden, for which he received a Jeff Award nomination. Regionally, Mr. Smith directed Death and the King’s Horseman (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Birdie Blue (Seattle Repertory Theatre), The Story (Milwaukee Repertory Theater), Blues for an Alabama Sky (Alabama Shakespeare Festival) and The Last Season (Robey Theatre Company). At Columbia College he was facilitator of the Theodore Ward Prize playwriting contest for 20 years and editor of the contest anthologies Seven Black Plays and Best Black Plays. He won a Chicago Emmy Award as associate producer/theatrical director for the NBC teleplay Crime of Innocence and was theatrical director for the Emmy-winning Fast Break to Glory and the Emmy-nominated The Martin Luther King Suite. He was a founding member of the Chicago Theatre Company, where he served as artistic director for four seasons and directed the Jeff-nominated Suspenders and the Jeff-winning musical Po’. His directing credits include productions at Fisk University, Roosevelt University, Eclipse Theatre, ETA, Black Ensemble Theater, Northlight Theatre, MPAACT, Congo Square Theatre Company, The New Regal Theater, Kuumba Theatre Company, Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre, Pegasus Players, the Timber Lake Playhouse in Mt. Carroll, Illinois and the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He is a 2003 inductee into the Chicago State University Gwendolyn Brooks Center’s Literary Hall of Fame and a 2001 Chicago Tribune Chicagoan of the Year. He is the proud recipient of the 1982 Paul Robeson Award and the 1997 Award of Merit presented by the Black Theater Alliance of Chicago.

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