Seven Guitars
October 9, 2012 - November 11, 2012
By August Wilson
Directed By Kevin Jones

Saturday, November 10 at 2pm.
Don't miss one of your last chance to see this show before it closes on Nov. 11. Click here to get your tickets now!

Is where you are ever where you hoped you’d be?

The rhythm of 1948 Pittsburgh comes to life with August Wilson’s seven African American characters whose backyard chords and Chicago dreams play out a yearning whisper and an indignant refrain.  Buried romance, resentments and aspirations are unearthed in these everyday lives much like epic lyrics to a moving song. The rooster crows for justice, the musicians weave like boxers as hope, pride and desperation partner to waltz away the American Dream. Seven Guitars is the fifth play in August Wilson’s set of 10 plays exploring the African American experience in the 20th Century. Part of the Red Door Project’s August Wilson Festival.
Portland Premiere.


Canewell Victor Mack*
Red Carter Michael J. Asberry*
Vera Dotson   Ramona Lisa* 
Louise  Gayle Samuels*
Hedley Mujahid Abdul-Rashid
Floyd Barton Lance McQueen*
Ruby Ashley Williams








Set Designer  Jeff Seats
Lighting Designer  Peter West
Sound Designer Rodolfo Ortega
Costume Designer Jessica Bobillot
Props Designer Rusty Tennant
Dialect Coach Mary McDonald Lewis
Assistant Director Aiyana Cunningham
Stage Manager Michelle Jazuk* 
Production Assistant   Bailey Maxwell
Understudy Anya Pearson







*Member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States


This production contains herbal cigarette smoke, violence and blood.

This fall the August Wilson Red Door Project presents the August Wilson Festival, a celebration of Wilson's life and legacy.  Enjoy special evenings with award-winning costume designer, Constanza Romero, and one of the foremost interpreters of Wilson's plays, actor and August Wilson scholar, Stephen Henderson. In December, Portland Playhouse presents King Hedley II, a bookend of Seven Guitars in Wilson's Century Cycle. And In November, the Red Door Project hosts a community gathering at the North Portland library: "Why We Go to the Theatre."  Find all the details at

Join the cast for a Post-Show Discussion after the 2pm matinee performances on October 14, 21, 28, 31 and November 4.

Happy Hours, Surprise Nights and Book Clubs! Click here to see a full schedule of Audience Enrichment Events.

Click here to read a detailed synopsis of our productions. Spoiler Alert!  

STUDY GUIDE - Click here to read the extensive study guide for Seven Guitars - a great resource!

Click here to see the latest production photos by Owen Carey.

Seven Guitars premiered at the Walter Kerr Theatre on March 28, 1996.  Directed by Lloyd Richards, it ran for a total of 188 performances, and featured a strong cast that included Viola Davis in the role of “Vera.” Wilson’s play won the 1996 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play, and was nominated for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the 1996 Drama Desk Award for Best Play, and the 1996 Tony Award for Best Play.  Seven Guitars was revived in 2006 at the Signature Theater Company in New York, and was directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, who appeared as an actor in the original production.  The revival included an adaptation of the original score, with new music written by Bill Sims Jr.  Seven Guitars represents the 1940s entry in Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle, a decade-by-decade anthology of African-American life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during the 20th Century.  Although the plays of the cycle are not strictly connected to the degree of a serial story, some characters appear (at various ages) in more than one of the cycle's plays. The plays often include an apparently mentall -impaired oracular character; for example, Hedley [Sr.] in Seven Guitars, Gabriel in Fences or Hambone in Two Trains Running. Other famous Wilson plays written for this cycle are Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and The Piano Lesson.


ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT:  August Wilson (April 27, 1945 – October 2, 2005) was an incredibly influential American playwright from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Born Frederick August Kittel, Jr., he was named after his largely absent, white immigrant father. When Kittel died in 1965, Wilson officially changed his name to honor his mother, Daisy Wilson. Due to racial tension and threats at school, he dropped out at age 15 and educated himself at the Carnegie Library.  He bought his first typewriter, and turned to the theatre. The rest is history. Wilson stated that he was most influenced by "the four Bs": blues music, the Argentine novelist and poet Jorge Luis Borges, the playwright Amiri Baraka and the painter Romare Bearden. Two of his plays from the Pittsburgh Cycle, Fences and The Piano Lesson, won him Pulitzer Prizes for Drama.  Wilson received many honorary degrees, including an honorary Doctor of Humanities from the University of Pittsburgh, where he served as a member of the University's Board of Trustees from 1992 until 1995.  On October 16, 2005, 14 days after Wilson's death, the Virginia Theatre in New York City's Broadway theatre district was renamed the August Wilson Theatre. It is the first Broadway theatre to bear the name of an African-American.

Dates: October 9 - November 11
Performances: Tuesday - Sunday @ 7:30pm; Sunday @ 2:00pm
Opening Night is Friday, October 12.



 The Oregonian



Kris Olson & Les Swanson
Jim & Sandy Hedke
Barbara, Kimberly & Tom Roberts

The Reviews...

Marty Hughley of The Oregonian says Seven Guitars is "powerfully realized," calls out performances by Victor Mack and Gayle Samuels, says Jeff Seat's set design is "magnificent" and says Kevin Jones' direction "gives it the pace and shape to bring out the colorful humor as well as the anguish at the core of these characters." Read the whole review here.

Bob Hicks, writing for ArtsWatch, composed a beautiful review of Seven Guitars, riffing on the deep musicality of the play and including quotes from when Bob sat down with playwright August Wilson years ago. Read it here!

"(August) Wilson's Seven Guitars, written in 1995, teems with rich vernacular dialogue as its slow-simmering plot builds toward tragedy in what Newsweek described as "a kind of jazz cantata for actors," wrote Marty Hughley in a preview for The Oregonian. Read the rest here.  

"A play whose epic proportions and abundant spirit remind us of what the American theater once was. . ."
— New York Times

"The seven guitars of the title are the seven characters whose straightforward story lines Wilson turns into beautiful, complex music—a funky wailing, irresistible Chicago blues."
—The New Yorker

"Riveting. . . . Wilson's mastery of time and character has never been more apparent."
—Boston Globe

Tickets for Artists Rep's 2014/15 season are on sale now! Click on the link below to purchase or call our Box Office at 503.241.1278.