“I will go anywhere in the world to direct any of Mr. Wilson’s plays…It’s an honor to be back home in Buffalo!” -Ed Smith
Play Runs Nov. 9 thru Dec. 2
at Buffalo’s Paul Robeson Theatre inside the African American Cultural Center
350 MastenAve. 884-2013 or www.aaccbuffalo.org
Edward G. “Ed” Smith, a celebrated, award winning director who helped establish Black theatre in Buffalo, returned here several weeks ago to direct August Wilson’s King Hedley II which opens this weekend at the Paul Robeson Theatre on Friday, November 9. No stranger to the genius playwright’s works, it was back in the 80’s that Ed directed another August Wilson masterpiece Joe Turners Come and Gone, with the Stephen B. Henderson at the Studio Arena. Ed pointed out that Studio Arena was first theatre in this area to produce an August Wilson play. In 2016 Henderson appeared in the film adaptation as a co-star with Denzel Washington in another popular August Wilson masterpiece, Fences.
“It’s good to be back in Buffalo,” Ed said acknowledging the talent this area has produced over the years. “I like the cast of King Headley II” he continued, adding that he was glad to have the opportunity to be here to work with them. “I did this play in St. Louis ten years ago. The story takes place in 1985 and it is one of his (Wilson’s) last plays. It’s a good play and the longest play of the 10 he’s written.”
The audience will be able to appreciate the significance of King Headley II he continued, because even though the story takes place in 1985…and this is 2018, “it shows how nothing has really changed for us and how we still have the same problems,” he said. “It’s really about Black folks trying to get ahead and always being pushed back by the establishment.”
-Legacy- Ed’s first gig in Buffalo was in 1967 where he traveled from New York and became a member of the Children’s Theatre at Studio Arena. In 1969 he permanently moved to Buffalo and started the Buffalo Black Drama Workshop in 1972. In the ’70s, he also helped to start Black Canada in Toronto. He was a lecturer at the University of Buffalo and worked his way to full professorship before he retired. Ed, who left Buffalo in 1992 has directed at many of the regional theatres around the country, and taught at Mt. Holyoke College, University of California, Florida State University and the Graduate program at Wayne State University.
He became associate Artistic Director at the Alabama Shakespeare festival theatre and Artistic Director at the Jubilee theatre in Fort Worth, Texas.
Ed has directed over 150 plays. He was honored to have directed, Mr. Ossie Davis’ last play, A Last Dance For Sybil which featured, Mrs. Ruby Dee and Mr. Earl Hyman.
He has won many awards for directing, The Whipping Man, Dancing at Lughnasa, The Bluest Eye, Our Town, The Piano Lesson and his favorite August Wilson’s play Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. He also directed the premiere of Endesha Ida Mae Holland’s From the Mississippi Delta.
He is also the author of “Black Theatre: Ethnic Theatre in the United States,” and was a longtime jazz radio DJ. In 2009 the prestigious National Black Theatre Festival ® Ed was honored with the festival’s first annual Lloyd Richards’ Director’s Award. Smith received this coveted award because of his significant contributions to Black theatre and American theatre in general.
Ed has directed seven of the ten August Wilson’s American Century Cycle plays. Currently retired, he resides in Dallas, Texas and freelances around the country. “I will go anywhere in the world to direct any of Mr. Wilson’s plays,” he said. ”It’s an honor to be back home in Buffalo!”
The Play Runs Nov. 9 thru Dec. 2 at Buffalo’s Paul Robeson Theatre inside the African American Cultural Center 350 MastenAve. 884-2013 or www.aaccbuffalo.org