August Wilson protégé directs ‘The Piano Lesson’ at UIC Theatre

Derrick Sanders

Derrick Sanders at a production of Wilson’s “Fences” at the Wells Theatre in Norfolk, Va.

Derrick Sanders, UIC assistant professor of theatre and a protégé of the late August Wilson, will direct student actors in the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Piano Lesson,” part of Wilson’s 20th Century Cycle.


Feb. 20, 21, 26, 27, 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 22, 25, March 1 at 2 p.m.
Feb. 24 at noon (student matinee)


UIC Theatre
1044 W. Harrison St.


In Pittsburgh’s Hill District during the Depression, the Charles family struggles over whether to sell their shared legacy—an antique piano carved to depict the faces of their enslaved ancestors—and the secret it holds. Ambition battles with uncertainty and the inexorable pull of the past.

Derrick Sanders, a Jefferson Award winner, brings rare insight to Wilson’s play. Sanders began working with Wilson when Sanders was a student at the University of Pittsburgh during the late 1990s. In 2007, Sanders made his off-Broadway directing debut at the Signature Theater with Wilson’s “King Hedley II,” at Wilson’s request.

“While working with August Wilson, I gained a unique perspective in the formation of his characters and the ideas embedded in his plays,” Sanders said.  “I received a glimpse of his working process of infusing blues rhythms into the poetry in his plays. I developed a keen understanding of the relationship between African American culture and the themes in the plays, as his characters seek for America to live up to it promise to its citizens.”

“The Piano Lesson” represents the 1930s in Wilson’s 20th Century Cycle, for which the playwright wrote a play to portray the lives of African Americans in the Hill District in each decade.

Tickets to all UIC Theatre productions are $17 for general admission and $12 for students at the box office at (312) 996-3929 or online.

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