A modern American classic

JITNEY, a ground-breaking play by the African American dramatist August Wilson, comes to Bath’s Theatre Royal,  from Tuesday 26th to Saturday 30th July, direct from its acclaimed London premiere at the Old Vic.

Directed by Tinuke Craig, Jitney explores the fragile bond between eight men as they live and work in a racially segregated, post-Vietnam America.

Jim Becker (Wil Johnson) and his unlicensed drivers take the people of Pittsburgh Hill District where regular taxi cabs won’t venture – healing old wounds and tearing new ones as they pass the time in a condemned taxi rank, the jitney station, between pick-ups.

Set in the 1970s, the play is part of August Wilson’s most famous body of work, The Pittsburgh Cycle. Written in 1979, Jitney was first staged in 1982. It premiered on Broadway 35 years later in 2017 and went on to win the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play in 2000, the Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2002 and the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play in 2017.

The Pittsburgh Cycle, also referred to as the Century Cycle, chronicles 100 years of the African American experience through a series of ten plays. Jitney was the first play Wilson wrote in the Pittsburgh Cycle. Other plays from the collection include Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (set in the 1920s); King Hedley II (set in the 1980s); and Fences (set in the 1950s), which was staged by Theatre Royal Bath Productions in 2013 starring Lenny Henry and Tanya Moodie – a production which opened in Bath prior to its West End transfer.

Wil Johnson, who stars as Becker, owner of the jitney station, is best known on television for his roles as Dominic Andrews in 129 episodes of Emmerdale and Detective Inspector Spencer Jordan in 92 episodes of Waking the Dead.

The other cast members are Tony Marshall as Fielding, Geoff Aymer as Doub, Nnabiko Ejimofor as Shealy, Blair Gyabaah as Booster, Leanne Henlon as Rena, Solomon Israel as Youngblood, Dayo Koleosho as Philmore and Sule Rimi as Turnbo.

Pictured: Nnabiko Ejimofor as Shealy and Wil Johnson as Becker; Wil Jonson as Becker; Leanne Henlon as Rena in Jitney. Photographs by Manuel Harlan.