Wilson began writing plays in the 1970s when he embarked on an ambitious project: he decided to write a cycle of plays about African American life, each set in a different decade of the 20th Century. Seattle Rep is one of the few theatres in the country to have produced the Century Cycle in its entirety. A full list of the plays (in order of the decades they explore) is listed below.
1900s - Gem of the Ocean : Former slaves and men born into freedom meet in the parlor of Aunt Ester, a central figure in Pittsburgh’s Hill District.
1910s - Joe Turner's Come and Gone : Released from the bondage of a bounty hunter, Herald Loomis turns up in a boardinghouse to look for his missing wife.
1920s - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom : In a recording studio, the blues diva and her most gifted musician strain against the racial caste system and one another.
1930s - The Piano Lesson : A brother and sister battle over whether to keep or sell a piano that represents their troubled family history.
1940s - Seven Guitars : A blues musician’s unexpected hit song alters the lives of his sidemen, friends, and lover.
1950s - Fences : Father and son battle over the prospect of an athletic scholarship.
1960s - Two Trains Running : Amid the regulars at a neighborhood lunch counter, a newly released convict tries to reassemble his life.
1970s - Jitney : In the dingy office of a gypsy cab company, the owner and his ex-con son clash over their shared history.
1980s - King Hedley II: Returning after seven years in prison to a neighborhood devastated by Reaganomics, King Hedley II tries to re-establish himself and to understand the past.
1990s - Radio Golf : Two golf loving real-estate developers plan to destroy the former home of Aunt Ester, a major figure in the Hill District neighborhood.