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yracuse Stage is committed to providing students with rich theatre experiences that explore and examine what it is to be human. Research shows that children who participate in or are exposed to the arts show higher academic achievement, stronger self-esteem, and improved ability to plan and work toward a future goal. Many students in our community have their first taste of live theatre through Syracuse Stage’s outreach programs. Last season more than 30,000 students from across New York State attended or participated in the Bank of America Children’s Tour, Backstory performances, artsEmerging, the Young Playwrights Festival, and our Student Matinee Program. We gratefully acknowledge the corporations and foundations who support our commitment to in-depth arts education for our community. Children’s Tour Naming Sponsor

Student Matinee Series Sponsor

supported in part by

ArtsEmerging supported in part by

John Ben Snow Foundation, Inc.

Kathy & Dan Mezzalingua

The Kochian Family

The Bass Family

Backstory Program

supported in part by

General Educational Outreach

supported in part by

The Golub Foundation

Lori Pasqualino as “Annabel” in the 2010 Bank of America Children’s Tour: Annabel Drudge... and the Second Day of School. Photo by Michael Davis

09/10 SEASON CLASSROOM STUDY GUIDE Content Written and Collected by Len Fonte Editing, Layout & Design by Michelle Scully

CONTENTS Timothy Bond

Producing Artistic Director Syracuse Stage & SU Drama

820 E Genesee Street Syracuse, NY 13210 www.SyracuseStage.org Director of

4. Introduction & Planning Your Visit 5. Teaching Theatre 7. Title Page/Credits 8. About the Author 9. About the Play 10. Context 12. Sources & Resources 13. Syracuse Stage Season 2010-11

Educational Outreach

Lauren Unbekant (315) 443-1150 Manager of Educational Outreach

Michelle Scully (315) 442-7755


Group Sales & Student Matinees

Tracey White (315) 443-9844

Since 1849 National Grid and its predecessor companies have been part of the Syracuse community, helping to meet the energy needs of over two million Upstate New York customers. We are proud to contribute to the quality of life through the energy we deliver and through the many ways we give back to the communities we serve.

Box Office

with additional support by

(315) 443-3275 Syracuse Stage is Central New York’s premiere professional theatre. Founded in 1974, Stage has produced more than 230 plays in 37 seasons including numerous world and American premieres. Each season, upwards of 90,000 patrons enjoy an exciting mix of comedies, dramas and musicals featuring leading designers, directors and performers from New York and across the country, supported by a full-time and seasonal staff of artisans, technicians and administrators.

EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH AT SYRACUSE STAGE The Bank of America CHILDREN’S TOUR brings high-energy, interactive, and culturally diverse performances to elementary school audiences. The BACKSTORY Program brings history to life, as professional actors portray historical figures in classrooms and other venues. artsEMERGING takes students on an in-depth exploration of our mainstage season using a multi-cultural, multi-arts lens. The YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS FESTIVAL challenges students to submit original tenminute plays for a chance to see their work performed at Syracuse Stage.

Find us on: 3



hen the first cave-dweller got up to tell a story, theatre began. Almost every culture has some sort of live performance tradition to tell stories. Television and film may have diminished the desire for access to theatre, but they have not diminished the importance.

Live theatre gives each audience member an opportunity to connect with the performers in a way he/she never could with actors on a television or movie screen. The emotions can be more intense because the events are happening right in front of the audience. In the classroom, theatre can be an effective teaching tool. The NY State Teaching Standards value students’ observation of and participation in theatrical performances, both in traditional settings and classroom exercises. We at Syracuse Stage hope that our Study Guides will help you discover a multitude of possibilities for integrating this season’s productions into your lesson plans. We encourage you to delve deeply into our plays with your students and examine not just the story and its themes, but also the manner in which it is told — the casting, visual design, sound design, movement and choreography, and dialogue. If we can be of any further assistance toward this end, please feel free to call our Education Department at (315) 4431150.


“Theatre brings life to life.”

Zelda Fichandler

Founding Artistic Director Arena Stage, Washington DC

PROMPT ARRIVAL gives your students plenty of time to arrive, find their seats, and get situated. We ask that you arrive 30 minutes prior to the performance.

BUSSES should load and unload students on E. Genesee

St., where red cones will indicate bus-only parking. Please do not block the Centro Bus Stop at the corner.

USHERS will escort you to your seats. We request that

teachers and chaperones distribute themselves among the students, and help us to keep students in their seats once seated.

BACKPACKS, cameras, food, and drink are not

allowed into the theatre, nor can we store them. Please leave these items at school or on the bus.

PHOTOGRAPHY and video recording per-

formances is illegal, disruptive, and sometimes dangerous. Cameras and other recording devices, including cell phones, will be confiscated.

SNACKS & SODA, whenever possible, will be available during intermission for $1. These are to be consumed in the lobby only.

RESTROOMS are located in the main lobby, but

please only allow students to exit during a performance in the case of an emergency.


Instead of instructing students to remain totally silent, please discuss the difference between appropriate responses (laughter, applause, participation when requested) and inappropriate noise (talking, texting, etc). 4


A heatre




Any piece of theatre comprises multiple art forms. As you explore the play with your students, examine the use of: WRITING


Teaching Theatre



Most (but not all) plays begin with a script — a story to be told and a blueprint of how to tell it. In his famous treatise, The Poetics, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle outlined


Plot What

that playwrights are mindful of to this day:

is the story line? What happened before the play started? What does each character want? What do they do to achieve their goals? What do they stand to gain/lose?

Language What do the characters say? How do they say it? When do they say it? Do they speak to one character differently than another? Why?


usic How do music and What ideas are sound help to tell this story? wrestled with in the play? What quespectacle What vitions does the play pose? Does it pressual elements support the play? This ent an opinion on those questions, or could include: puppets, scenery, cosleave it to the audience to decide? tumes, dance, movement, and more.




Who are the people in the story? What is their relationship to one another? Why do they do what they do? How do their ages/status/etc affect them?

Other Elements: Conflict/Resolution, Action, Improvisation, Non-verbal communication, Staging, Humor, Realism and other styles, Metaphor, Language, Tone, Pattern and repetition, Emotion, Point of view.

At its core, drama is about characters working toward goals and overcoming obstacles. Ask students to use their bodies and voices to create characters who are: very old, very young, very strong, very weak, very tired, very energetic, very cold, very warm. Have their characters interact with one another. Give them an objective to fulfil despite their environmental obstacles. Later, recap by asking how these obstacles affected their character and the pursuit of his/her objectives. 5

Teaching Theatre


Most plays utilize designers to create the visual world of the play through scenery, costumes, lighting, and more. These artists use


to communicate information about the world within the play and its characters. Have students discuss these elements BEFORE attending the performance and ask them to pay special attention to how these elements are used in the production’s design. Whether your students are observing a piece of visual art like a painting or a piece of performance art like a play, allow them first to notice the basic elements, then encourage them to look deeper into why these elements are used the way they are.

LINE can have length, width, texture, direc-

tion and curve. There are 5 basic varieties: verticle, horizontal, diagonal, curved, and zig-zag.

SHAPE is two-dimensional

and encloses space. It can be geometric (eg. squares and circles), man-made, or free-form.

FORM is three-dimensional. It encloses

space and fills space. It, too, can be geometric (eg. cubes and cylinders), man-made, or free-form.


is defined and determined by shapes and forms. Positive space is enclosed by shapes and forms, while negative space exists around them.


has three basic properties: HUE is the name of the color (eg. red, blue, green), INTENSITY is the strength of the color (bright or dull), VALUE is the range of lightness to darkness.


refers to the “feel” of an object’s surface. It can be smooth, rough, soft, etc. Textures may be ACTUAL (able to be felt) or IMPLIED (suggested visually through the artist’s technique). 6


Timothy Bond

Jeffrey Woodward

Producing Artistic Director

Managing Director


Directed by Timothy Bond

February 23 - March 13 How do we move forward without leaving behind difficult but defining aspects of our past? A powerful and timely drama from the most celebrated American playwright of this generation, Radio Golf tells the story of a man striving to become the first African American mayor of Pittsburgh. He’s forced to weigh the importance of family, legacy, heritage and history against the truth of his political and class ambitions. Moving, funny, lyrical and rousing, Radio Golf is the inspiring final play of August Wilson’s monumental, ten-play 20th Century Cycle and career. “Gorgeous writing with a big heart. Not only is this Wilson’s most contemporary work, it is also his most accessible and most unambiguously political—an urgent call to remember what the 20th century has done to these people and their community.” – Newsday Radio Golf is the final installment in August Wilson’s 10-play 20th Century Cycle, chronicling the African American experience during each decade of the 20th Century. Radio Golf received four 2007 Tony nominations, including Best Play, and won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play. With Radio Golf, Stage’s Producing Artistic Director Timothy Bond continues his commitment to produce Wilson’s 10-play cycle. Past Wilson productions at Syracuse Stage include Fences (2010), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2008), Gem of the Ocean (2007), Jitney (2002), The Piano Lesson (1996), and Fences (1991). Wilson’s cycle (in order of decade which the drama is set) includes Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II and Radio Golf. Radio Golf is a co-production with Geva Theatre Center of Rochester, NY.







Born Frederick August Knittel in 1945, August Wilson was born in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, the sixth child of a white German immigrant and Daisy Wilson, an African American cleaning woman from North Carolina. His parents separated in the late 1950’s, and Daisy remarried, moving with her children from Pittsburgh’s Hill District to Hazelwood, a mainly white working class neighborhood, where they experienced racial hatred. When a high school teacher accused him of plagiarizing a twenty-page paper on Napoleon, the teenage Frederick dropped out of school and continued his education on his own at the public library, devouring the work of copyright: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times authors such as Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison, and Arna Bontemps. In 1965, his father died, and young Frederick changed his name to August Wilson, in honor of his mother. When, in the same year, he purchased his first typewriter, the twenty-year-old declared himself a writer. After dabbling in poetry, he started writing plays, and in 1969 co-founded the activist theater company Black Horizons on the Hill with playwright Rob Penny. When he moved from Pittsburgh to Minneapolis in 1978, Wilson started to clearly hear the voices of the Hill District for the first time. A draft of the early play Jitney won him a $200 a month fellowship at the Minneapolis Playwrights Center. In 1982, his next play, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was accepted by the Eugene O’Neill National Playwriting Conference, where he met director Lloyd Richards, who directed Wilson’s first six plays on Broadway. Fences and The Piano Lesson won the Pulitzer Prize for drama. The original Broadway production of Fences, starring James Earl Jones, received the Tony Award. An acclaimed Broadway revival, starring Denzel Washington opened in 2010. In 2005, shortly after the premiere of Radio Golf, August Wilson was diagnosed with liver cancer. He died on October 2nd of that year in Seattle, Washington. Radio Golf is the sixth play in August Wilson’s 20th Century Cycle to be produced by Syracuse Stage, which is determined to produce all ten plays.

Wilson’s “Century Cycle,” also referred to as his “Pittsburgh Cycle,” consists of ten plays—nine of which are set in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. The plays are each set in a different decade and aim to sketch the Black experience in the 20th century. In decade order, the plays are: 1900s - Gem of the Ocean (2003) 1910s - Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (1984) 1920s - Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (1982) 1930s - The Piano Lesson (1989) Pulitzer Prize 1940s - Seven Guitars (1995) 1950s - Fences (1985) Pulitzer Prize 1960s - Two Trains Running (1990) 1970s - Jitney (1983) 1980s - King Hedley II (2001) 1990s - Radio Golf (2005) 8

The Century Cycle

Although the plays 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. Children of characters in earlier plays may appear in later plays. The character most frequently mentioned in the cycle is Aunt Ester, a “washer of souls.” She is reported to be 285 years old in Gem of the Ocean, which takes place in her home at 1839 Wylie Avenue. She dies in 1983, during the events of King Hedley II. Much of the action of Radio Golf revolves around the plan to demolish and redevelop that house, some years after her death.


About Play


is set in Pittsburgh, PA in a predominantly black section of town known as the Hill District. It’s 1997, and the Hill has been overrun by crime, poverty, and a devastating lack of commerce. It’s a far cry from the thriving community where Harmond Wilks, a successful black businessman, grew up. Harmond and his friend, Roosevelt Hicks, hope to improve the fortunes of the neighborhood by creating a real estate redevelopment with gleaming new houses, apartments, and commercial space. The two men, however, have very different visions of their roles in the community. Harmond, who grew up in a prominent family, is an idealist with ambitions of becoming the city’s next mayor, a position that would allow him to assimilate the Hill with the rest of the city. Roosevelt is an opportunist who plans to enrich himself with the purchase of a local radio station. The redevelopment they are planning hinges on the federal government declaring the Hill District a blighted area. This official designation would infuse the redevelopment project with millions of dollars. Harmond’s wife, Mame, is a successful woman in her own right. Though she vows never to live in the Hill again, she’s a strong advocate of pushing the shabby neighborhood into a bright and bold future. The past catches up with Harmond and Roosevelt when they discover that Old Joe has been painting an abandoned house that sits on the lot they’ve chosen [….]

Adapted from materials developed by Theatreworks.

Characters & Setting Harmond Wilks:

A real-estate developer seeking mayoral candidacy; a well-placed local leader

Mame Wilks:

Harmond’s wife of more than twenty years; a professional public relations executive

Roosevelt Hicks:

Bank vice president; Harmond’s business partner and college roommate; an avid golfer

Sterling Johnson:

Self-employed contractor and neighborhood handyman; robbed a bank thirty years ago

Elder Joseph Barlow:

recently returned to the Hill District where he was born in 1918

Other “Characters”

Aunt Ester: A “washer of souls,” she was the original owner of Old Joe’s house at 1839 Wylie Avenue; the caring wise woman of her community. She is reported to be 285 years old in Gem of the Ocean, which takes place in the house in the early 1900s. She dies in 1985, during the events of King Hedley II.

The House: Aunt Ester’s home (now Old Joe’s house) represents the spiritual center of the Hill

District, and the once-vital history of the neighborhood. For Harmond Wilks, it also symbolizes the promise of a revitalized Hill District that includes, rather than marginalizes, the current low-income residents. 9



URBAN REDEVELOPMENT The primary conflict in Radio Golf revolves around the plan to demolish Old Joe’s house. To do so would signal the demise of the blighted Hill District, and allow the rise of Bedford Hills, Harmond’s vision of a new, economically vibrant community. On the one hand, investing in the community makes it a more attractive and stable place to live; on the other, rising property values often drive away residents who can’t afford the increase in taxes and living expenses. Harmond’s “Bedford Hills Redevelopment Project” is an example of the kinds of plans implemented all over the country in urban areas. In the mid-twentieth century, America embarked on widespread “Urban Renewal” projects to tear down and rebuild blighted communities. Many of the neighborhoods involved turned out worse, including Pittsburgh’s Hill District. Modern projects tend to be referred to as “Urban Revitalization.” Though the idea behind it is the same, failure of so many “Urban Renewal” projects has given the term a negative connotation. When renewal projects succeed and the communities are successfully revitalized, the demographics of the area tend to change. This process is called “gentrification.” The community sees an influx of middle-class or affluent people, and the original residents, often nonwhites, are driven out by increases in the cost of living. In addition to the hardships placed on the previous inhabitants when a community is gentrified, the history of the place is threatened. In the play, Old Joe’s house (once owned by Aunt Ester) holds a lot of significance for many people; to tear it down would be tearing down a piece of history.

G entrification :

the process of renewal and rebuilding ac companying the influx of middle - class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents .

The Hill District

The Hill District is a predominantly African-American neighborhood within walking distance of downtown Pittsburgh. It is August Wilson’s birthplace and the setting for the majority of his plays, including Radio Golf. The Hill District was always a diverse area. Generations of Irish and Jewish immigrants called this area home in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Starting from approximately 1880-1900, African Americans began migrating from the South and many settled in “The Hill.” The area quickly established itself as one of the most important African American communities in the nation, with a strong emphasis on art, literature, and music. Business districts along Wylie and Bedford Avenues and Logan Street thrived, and it was a hotbed of jazz at places like the Crawford Grill. The Hill was also home to the Pittsburgh Crawfords, a Negro League baseball team featuring Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige. Over time the population grew and the neighborhood deteriorated. In 1955 the Lower Hill Redevelopment Program was approved, which included construction of a new Civic Arena. The project cleared ninety-five acres and displaced 1,239 African American families and 312 white. Following the redevelopment project, the downward spiral continued. Residents becoming embroiled in violence following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the area was hit hard in the 1980s by illegal drug use. These events caused the population to plummet from over 50,000 in 1950 to about 15,000 in 1990, with a large percentage living in public housing. The Hill District continues to struggle to this day. At present, the area does not even have a grocery store. What it does have, however, are residents who care deeply about their homes and are trying to improve the area. .

Adapted from materials developed by Theatreworks.


Connections and Considerations • What are some of the reasons why a community would be redeveloped? • Why might someone be opposed to redevelopment in his/her neighborhood? • What improvements might be made, and who benefits from these improvements? • Can you think of examples of urban redevelopment projects in your area? • In your opinion, are these communities better off after redevelopment occurs? These questions address New York State Social Studies Standards 1, 4, and 5. Adapted from materials developed by Theatreworks.

Courtesy of the Pennsylvania State Archives



S uccess


I hit my first golf ball I asked myself where have I been? How’d I miss this? I couldn’t believe it. I felt free. Truly free. For the first time. I watched the ball soar down the driving range. I didn’t think it could go so high. It just kept going higher and higher. I felt something lift off me. Some weight I was carrying around and didn’t know it. I felt like the world was open to me. Everything and everybody… You don’t have to hide and crawl under a rock just ‘cause you black. Later in the play, Roosevelt’s interest in golf leads to a business relationship with a wealthy but underhanded white executive who wants to buy a radio station:


Classroom Activity


G olf : A ccess

Golf has traditionally been viewed as a game for rich white men. The golf course has even been called “the white man’s outdoor office” because so many business deals are made there. In Radio Golf, Harmond and Roosevelt’s enthusiasm for golf symbolizes that they’ve “made it,” despite the racial and economic barriers they face as African Americans. Consider the following quotes from the play:

In the play, golf represents success and access to the wealthy business elite. As a class, brainstorm some symbols of success you see in American culture. Are expectations of success different for different groups? What factors might make it easier or harder for someone from a particular group to achieve success? Write a short essay defining your personal idea of success. Adapted from materials developed by Theatreworks. These questions address New York State ELA Standards 1, 2, and 3.

So you’re the black face? You’re just the front?


Naw, Harmond. Naw. I get to get in the door. Remember in school we used to say we wanted to be in the room when they count the money? You’re there already. This is my shot.


You’ll get in the room. All it takes is some time. You can’t let Bernie Smith use you like this.


This is how you do it! This is how everybody does it! You don’t think Mellon has ever been used? We’re talking about an eight-million-dollar radio station! This is the game! I’m at the table! There was a time they didn’t let any blacks at the table. You opened the door. You shined the shoes. You served the drinks. And they went in the room and made the deal. I’m in the room!


Connections and Considerations • Do you agree with Roosevelt that it’s okay to do morally questionable things to get what you want? Why or why not? • Success does require sacrifice, whether it’s less time watching television or getting up early to train for a sport. What sacrifices are you willing to make in order to achieve what you want? What would you refuse to sacrifice? • Things like electronics, clothes, and cars are often valued as symbols of success. Have you wanted things that lost their meaning once you had them? How long did the pleasure you got from owning the item last?








Educational Theatre Association


Kennedy Center


Viola Spolin


INFORMATION SOURCES & RESOURCES Classroom Activities and Information Theatre Works Educational Material http://theatreworks.commercialmedia.com/media/studyguide.radiogolf.pdf

About August Wilson

http://www.augustwilson.net/ http://pittsburgh.about.com/od/famous_locals/p/august_wilson.htm http://plays.about.com/od/plays/a/augustwilson.htm




Profile for Syracuse Stage

Radio Golf 2011  

Radio Golf Study Guide

Radio Golf 2011  

Radio Golf Study Guide

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