Brandon J Dirden Returns to Broadway in August Wilson's "Jitney"
Steve Adubato goes one-on-one with Actor Brandon J. Dirden, who returns to Broadway in Pulitzer Prize winning playwright August Wilson's "Jitney." Dirden also talks about his role as FBI Agent Dennis Aderholt on the Cold War spy drama on FX, "The Americans."
"Welcome to NJPAC. I'm Steve Adubato. It is our honor to welcome, we had him over at WNET Studios over at Lincoln Center, it is an honor to have him here in Newark. Brandon Dirden, who is actor, director, and we had him last time with us talking about All the Way, the extraordinary play with... who was the guy again? [laughter] Yeah yeah. Bryan Cranston? Bryan Cranston. He was terrific. That's right. Bryan Cranston. You played Doctor Martin Luther King in that, a very special play, but we're talking this time about Jitney, right? That's right. Describe Jitney, which is gonna be opening up real soon at the... December 28th this will be seen, before that and after, the Samuel Friedman Theatre on 47th Street, describe it. So Jitney is one of the plays in the August Wilson Century Cycle. August wrote ten plays to chronicle each decade of the African American experience in the 20th century. And this one takes place in the 70's. It's actually the first play that he wrote, but it will now be the last to have its Broadway premiere. And it centers around a group of jitney drivers, which is slang for "cab drivers" or... in Pittsburgh, where nine of the ten plays are set. And it's... the station faces some challenges, and the men inside the station face some challenges, but it's probably one of his funnier plays. There's a dynamic between a father and his son, husband and wife, lovers, customers, and it sort of has everything in there. August Wilson? Yeah. Matters because? He's my hero. He's one of the... Tell folks. Explain. August... By the way, google August Wilson as we're talking. Yeah. You can watch this show and do it later, but go ahead. [laughter] Well, August... what he did for me... I started... eleven, twelve was my first August Wilson play, I was a boy. My first professional play was Joe Turner's Come and Gone, I played the youngest man that August ever wrote, and what it... it set me on my path, it said that you have a voice in the American theater. And other playwrights did that for a lot of people, but he was the playwright that did that for me. He said that people who looked like me, who sounded like me, who shared my background, my stories, we had a... we belonged in the theater. And if you look at Joe Turner's Come and Gone, just that one play that I started with, it has this boy who is eleven, twelve, and has a man who's eighty. And it has men who are in their twenties and thirties and fifties..."