As newly freed slaves journey northward, many find themselves on the doorstep of 1839 Wylie, the home of Aunt Ester, a 285-year-old former slave and renowned cleanser of souls. Among those seeking redemption is Citizen Barlow, burdened by an unconfessed crime that has thrust Pittsburgh’s local steel mill into riots. To release Citizen, Aunt Ester launches him on a journey aboard the legendary slave ship Gem of the Ocean to the City of Bones, where Citizen is plunged into his ancestors’ suffering and the weight of his wrongs.

The walls of the Playhouse turn to water and uneasy ghosts seek remembrance this season when we descend to explore August Wilson’s silver streets built of bone. Mythic in its proportions, Gem of the Ocean travels to 1904, when slavery was a living memory and African Americans were searching for a new life within the uncertain meaning of freedom.


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