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August Wilson, times two

August_wilson_2 If not for North Miami's M Ensemble Company, the work of the late August Wilson would scarcely have been seen in South Florida.  One of the region's oldest theater companies, also one of the nation's most enduring black theater companies, M Ensemble has commited to working its way through Wilson's entire 10-play cycle about black life in each decade of the 20th century.  This season, the company will tackle Wilson's 1986 play Joe Turner's Come and Gone, set in a Pittsburgh boarding house in 1911, from Nov. 13-Dec. 21.

John_archie Even sooner, though, another company is taking on Wilson's penetrating, theatrically dazzling work. Plantation's Mosaic Theatre will kick off its 2008-2009 season with a production of Wilson's final play, Radio Golf.  Also set in Pittsburgh, this time in the late 1990s, the play follows the fortunes of an entrepreneur who is angling to become the city's first black mayor. Artistic director Richard Jay Simon has signed up some of South Florida's best actors -- John Archie (pictured), Lela Elam, W. Paul Bodie, Summer Hill Seven and Robert Strain -- so expect fireworks.  Radio Golf runs Sept. 11-Oct. 5 at Mosaic's space in the American Heritage Center for the Arts, 12200 W. Broward Blvd.  Call 954-577-8243 or visit Mosaic's web site.

A footnote: If you're a fan of Wilson's rich, distinctive writing, you may want to own the beautiful box set of all 10 plays.  Called The August Wilson Century Cycle, the collection features not only special editions of the scripts but forwards by an eclectic group of artists (and critics) -- Laurence Fishburne, Tony Kushner, Toni Morrison, Suzan-Lori Parks, Phylicia Rashad and Frank Rich among them. The price ($200) isn't cheap, but this is the definitive Wilson collection, available through its publisher, the Theatre Communications Group.

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