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Local Theatre Production (Good Date Idea, Gentlemen)

"Two Trains Running" and the Lasting Impact on a College Student

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Pictured: Johnnie Hobbs Jr. Photo by Mark Garvin
Pictured: Johnnie Hobbs Jr. Photo by Mark Garvin
Pictured: Kash Goins and U.R. Photo by Mark Garvin
Pictured: Kash Goins and U.R. Photo by Mark Garvin

I first came across August Wilson’s writing during my junior year of college, when I was taking a newly formed undergraduate Directing course. The first play we read and analyzed through initial response papers was Wilson’s Fences. I did not know what to expect as I heard so many wonderful things about August Wilson and his work, yet I had no exposure to his plays at this point. From the moment I began reading Fences I was hooked and have taken every opportunity possible to read August Wilson’s works. My most recent exploration of his works is Two Trains Running, one of the plays that makes up The Pittsburgh Cycle, also often referred to as the Century Cycle. In Two Trains Running, the civil rights movement is sweeping across Pittsburgh’s Hill District in 1969 and Memphis Lee’s diner is scheduled to be torn down, a casualty of the city’s renovation project. Struggling to cope with a rapidly changing world, Memphis and the diner regulars fight to hang on to their solidarity and sense of community.

Pictured: U.R. and Yannick Haynes Photo by Mark Garvin
Pictured: U.R. and Yannick Haynes Photo by Mark Garvin

I had no idea what to expect when I first dove into this play. Having the opportunity to study a few of his plays while I have been obtaining my M.A. in Theatre from Villanova University, I asked myself some vital questions. Was it going to live up to Fences, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, and The Piano Lesson? Would I, as a college student about to leave the world of academia for the first time, be able to find a way into this play and be able to relate to the characters that Wilson created? The answer can be summed up in one word: absolutely. At the heart of this play, the characters are struggling to cope with a rapidly changing world and to fulfill their hopes and dreams despite the oppression they face on a daily basis. This is a message that I resonated with very much as I am about to step outside the world of education and take that leap into the working world to pursue my dreams.

Pictured: Johnnie Hobbs Jr. Photo by Mark Garvin
Pictured: Johnnie Hobbs Jr. Photo by Mark Garvin

There is so much about this play that I find invaluable as a college student, as it has certainly broadened my educational experience.  I was struck by how much of the Civil Rights Movement I was unfamiliar with and how this play provides a more intimate exposure to it. Everything that I have been exposed to has been of a larger platform, such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcom X, but this is an opportunity to see how the everyday person dealt with the fight for equal rights. This story also provided me with a more personal insight to the various fights for equality that are still happening all over the world. It taught me that if I want to find my place in this world, I have to work hard and that there will be obstacles no matter who you are or where you come from. I urge my peers to see this story brought to life at the Arden this March, so that it is able to have as lasting of an impact on them, as it did on me. Do not miss this show!

Pictured: U.R. Photo by Mark Garvin
Pictured: U.R. Photo by Mark Garvin

-Brenden Kortenhaus, Arden Theatre Company Marketing Intern

Student Rush Information

Here at Arden Theatre Company we offer a $10 student rush ticket deal to anyone with their college ID, pending availability, at the Box Office starting 30 minutes before any performance begins (Cash ONLY).  The Arden Theatre is located in the heart of Old City, just seconds away from great restaurants and night life. So, not only is this an amazing way to see fantastic theatre, but it’s also a great way to go out in the city and save some cash! If you prefer to plan your night out in advance, Arden Theatre Company also offers a $5 discount for all full-time students!

If you have any questions or want more information regarding our season, visit our website at www.ardentheatre.org or call the box office at 215-922-1122.

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