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Washington mentioned the deal on Friday night to audiences at An Evening With Denzel Washington & Dr. Todd Boyd Friday night at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.
“He did 10 plays. I‘ve been given the opportunity by the August Wilson estate. I’m directing and producing and acting in one (Fences) and I’m executive producing the other nine. I made a deal with HBO.”
Washington, who won a Tony award for starring in the 2010 broadway version of Fences with Viola Davis, mentioned that Davis will star in the film adaptation of Fences for HBO, which tells the story of a former baseball athlete who struggles to provide for his family as a trash collector in 1950s Pittsburgh after being denied to join the Major Leagues due to being African American. James Earl Jones starred in the 1987 original production.
Washington added: “We’re going to do one a year for the next nine years. I’m really excited about that. That that they put it in my hands, the estate, and trust me. That’s good enough for me. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Wilson’s ten plays were collectively called the August Wilson Century Cycle, documenting the African American experience in the 20th century. Each of the works explore race, art and religion in the 1900s, particularly racial tensions from slavery and the Civil War that were felt by the African American middle class.
“His stories are specifically African American stories, but the themes are universal,” said Washington. “Families, love, betrayal whatever the theme is. People relate and enjoy listening to or seeing his work. He was just a bright, brilliant shining light who was here and then he was gone, but his work will live forever to be interpreted by actors and directors for as long as we’re here.”
The nine other Wilson plays are titled, Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II, and Radio Golf.
The event was presented as part of the series Arts & Ideas: Conversations at the Wallis where Washington serves as an artistic advisor. Washington shared personal stories from his career with USC School of Cinematic Arts professor and “Notorious Ph.D” Dr. Todd Boyd to a sold-out crowd.
HBO did not immediately return THR‘s request for comment.
The event was live streamed online. Watch the full video below.
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