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Alumnae Stories

Spelman College Takes "The Piano Lesson"

January 2023

The Piano LessonSpelman College President Helene Gayle, M.D., MPH, along with Spelman students, alumnae and trustees attended a performance of August Wilson’s "The Piano Lesson" on Broadway.

Set in the intersection of the Great Migration and the Great Depression, and directed by Spelman alumnae, actress and Tony Award nominee LaTanya Richardson Jackson, C’71, the adaptation of Wilson’s well-known play centers around the embattled Charles family and the contentious decision to sell or not sell their heirloom piano as they grapple with a painful generational history.

The Broadway iteration stars Academy Award winner and Morehouse College Class of 1972 alum, Samuel L. Jackson, Screen Actors Guild Award nominee and Morehouse College Class of 2006 alum, John David Washington, and Tony and Emmy nominee Danielle Brooks.

Following the performance, members of the Spelman community attended a talkback with the cast, director, crew and producers of the play, and imparted wisdom to Spelman and Morehouse theater and performance majors on rehearsal schedules, set design and the inspiration behind the play itself.

The Jacksons also reflected on their time as students at Spelman and Morehouse and how their experiences in the Atlanta University Center (AUC) helped lay the foundation for their future careers.

"The Piano Lesson" marks Richardson Jackson’s directorial debut on Broadway, and she is also the first woman to direct an August Wilson play on Broadway. In addition, the adaptation recently became the highest-grossing Wilson play on Broadway in history.