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August Wilson's immersive, engaging, thrilling How I Learned What I Learned

Ralph Malachowski

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posted by Ralph Malachowski on Mar 22, 2019 10:30am | comments

   


Famed playwright August Wilson’s one-person memoir written and performed in 2003 How I Learned What I Learned is being presented by Arden Theatre Company at The Bob and Selma Horan Studio Theatre in Philadelphia now through April 14.

 

Frederick August Kittel, Jr. was born in 1945 in Pittsburgh, the fourth of seven children to a black mother and white father.  Internet searches further state that once his father died in 1965, Frederick changed his name to August Wilson, taking his mother’s name.  Wilson wrote most of his plays about life in the Hill District of Pittsburgh. His biracial status was something Wilson seldom mentioned. He celebrated his black heritage in his many plays. Wilson died in 2005 of liver cancer.

 

How I Learned What I Learned was written and performed by Wilson in 2003. This production is “co-conceived” by Todd Kreidler, and directed by Malika Oyetimein. It’s star is Kesserack Khennu.  Kesserack, as he is often listed in the program, engages the audience with his intensity, delivering a tour-de-force performance in this ninety-minute play. With little more than an occasional prop, a hat, a coat, a dictionary, a t-shirt, Kesserack kept the audience on this opening night spellbound. In How I Learned What I Learned Wilson spins a non-stop memoir of his life in Pittsburgh and the interesting, shady, and sometimes lethal characters he met in life. This makes for riveting theatre, especially when it is performed so thrillingly by Mr. Kesserack. 

 

How I Learned What I Learned is running simultaneously with a second August Wilson play on another stage, Gem of the Ocean. It’s a rare opportunity to see both plays at the same theatre complex, expertly and wonderfully realized.

 

Next at the Arden will be Indecent, by Paula Vogel, May 22 through June 23.

How I Learned What I Learned as well as Gem of the Ocean are playing at Arden Theatre Company, 62 North 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA. How I Learned What I Learned will be onstage until April 14. Gem of the Ocean will be onstage until March 31. For more information about the plays, visit www.ardentheatrecompany.org .

 

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