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Jitney is August Wilson’s two acts play, set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in a worn-down gypsy cab station in the early autumn 1977. The play is eighth in his “Pittsburgh Cycle.” Written in 1979, the play was first produced in 1982, at the small Allegheny Repertory Theatre. Wilson and her mother arrived to see the production by jitney. At Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota, another separate production followed, with him having more series produced on Broadway. Artistic director, Eddie Gilbert, of the Pittsburg Public Theatre, asked to produce the play, after reading the 1979 script. In 1996, Wilson returned to Pittsburg in response to Gilbert’s request, and re-wrote the play extensively, as directed by Marion McClinton, in what is viewed as its professional premiere. This was the first premiere that Lloyd Richards did not direct for him. There were up to 20 productions over the next four years nationwide, many with a similar cast, including the Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company production of 1998 produced by McClinton, and the Crossroads’ Theatre in New Jersey produced by Walter Dallas in 1997. On April 25, 2000, the play opened at the Second Stage Theatre in Off-Broadway and closed to pave way for another play that was coming in on September 10. Out of the 10 Pittsburg Cycle plays, Jitney was the only theatrical work that ran successfully Off-Broadway, probably as investors had become cautious after Wilson lost money on his previous play. The cast featured Stephen McKinley Henderson (Turnbo), Anthony Chisholm (Fielding), Willis Burks (Shealy), and Paul Butler (Becker), actors who had been with the play since 1996 and directed by McClinton. It won the best play of the year at the Olivier Award after running from October 16, 2001, through November 21, 2001, at the National Theatre’s Lyttelton Theatre.

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