Actor John Douglas Thompson discusses “King Hedley II” before premiere 

Actor John Douglas Thompson, who the New York Times called “one of the most compelling classical stage actors of his generation,” is visiting the Ent Center this week.  

Thompson is regarded as an August Wilson expert and will be giving a talk on April 23 at 2:30 p.m. to discuss Theatreworks’ upcoming production of Wilson’s “King Hedley II.”. 

Thompson’s return to Colorado Springs is sure to bring in local audiences who saw his performance as Louis Armstrong in “Satchmo at the Waldorf,” also at Theatreworks. Those who missed his last show in town may recognize Thompson as a Tony Award nominee for his portrayal of Becker in Wilson’s “Jitney.” 

Thompson’s mastery of classical acting will allow him to enlighten the audience on the works of Wilson from the actor’s point of view. Due to scheduling conflicts, Thompson will be delivering his speech the weekend prior to the opening of “King Hedley II,” which will open on April 27th. 

The upcoming presentation of “King Hedley II” will be the fifth production out of the 10 Wilson plays that comprise the Pittsburgh Cycle. Otherwise known as the American Century Cycle, each play depicts the African American experience in a different decade of the 20th Century. Thompson told the Village Voice that it was when he was in the audience of “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” that he felt called to become an actor. 

Director Marisa Hébert described “King Hedley II” in an interview with Theatreworks Producer Elena Hansen as a play focused on the way African Americans in the 1980s came into their own power, as well as also how they dealt with societal pushback against their empowerment. Characters from “Seven Guitars,” another Wilson play and earlier Theatreworks production, make appearances again in “King Hedley II.”  

“I think it’s about how our generations and how those threads weave into a different time period every time we check in,” Hébert said. 

Despite some darker subject matter, Hébert believes it’s a play that will be great for families to see together. “King Hedley II” is a snapshot of history and humanity centered around the theme of family. According to Hébert, “it’s a story that has something for absolutely everyone.” 

After Thompson speaks about the actor’s perspective on “King Hedley II”, the play will open April 27 at 7:30, and will run through May 21. UCCS students receive free admission, and tickets are available here.

Photo via Huntington Theatre Company/Nile Hawver