And why not? I wouldn’t support an all-female full production, and I wouldn’t support white actors claiming black roles except in special circumstances like schools, but why not give August’s great plays as many interpretations as possible?
In the event, it proved a very solid “Piano Lesson,” all three hours of it plus intermission. I wouldn’t say it revealed anything new about this great play, which I already know very well: the women just voiced the parts, and their gender receded in importance. But there were certainly some resonant ironies, as when a (female) Boy Willie lectures a (female) Berniece about feminist pride.
The centerpiece was an especially robust and joyous Boy Willie by Vanessa German, who I might almost say was born to play the part. I wish August had been there to see it. Not surprisingly, the reading was Vanessa’s idea, and she brought the rest of the cast together.
The best of the others were Bria Walker’s Wining Boy and Tami Dixon’s Lymon, but I’d better just list them all: Chrystal Bates (Berniece), Stephanie Akers (Doaker), Twanda Clark (Avery), Nia Washington (Maretha) and Naila Ansari (Grace.) You can get an idea of how much fun they had from their poster – they did the reading in play-appropriate costume, but they celebrated it as you see above.(Caption: German is at center top, with Washington below her. Clockwise starting with German the others are Clark, Akers, Walker, Dixon and Bates. Ansari is missing.)