Seven Guitars at No Rules Theatre Company Wednesday, Sept. 10

In 1995, playwright August Wilson wrote Seven Guitars, a play that captured the economic and racial injustices of postwar Pittsburgh circa 1948—the seventh entry in his “Pittsburgh Cycle” of plays about the experiences of black Americans throughout the 20th century. The production begins with the funeral of almost-famous blues musician Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton. Throughout the story, we witness events that led to the performer’s untimely death and unravel the mystery through bits of small talk, gossip, and song. Nearly 20 years since Wilson first conceived the tragic comedy, little has changed; America continues to struggle with complex issues around race and ethnicity that saw the spotlight last month with the killing of Michael Brown and subsequent brutal police crackdown in Ferguson, Mo. No Rules Theatre Company’s production debuts at Signature Theatre under the direction of original Seven Guitars cast member Michele Shay, who was nominated for a Tony Award for her portrayal of Louise in the 1996 Broadway production. Her experience and the smarting wounds of Ferguson will make the play resonate with audiences nearly seven decades after the scene was set. The play runs Sept. 10 to 28 at No Rules Theatre Co. at Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. $30–$50. (571) 527-2159. norulestheatre.org.

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