Press Conference February 14, at 12pm Live stream on youtube

Referred to as “the theatre’s poet of Black America”, for giving a voice to the voiceless, August Wilson is the most important African-American playwright of the 20th century: a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, he is a gigantic figure in the American theatre scene. Passed away in 2005, he left an extraordinary legacy, especially with his American Century Cycle: a series of 10 plays that offer a comprehensive, decade-by-decade look at the legacy and experience of African Americans throughout the 20th century, including exploitation, race relations, identity, migration, and discrimination. A milestone in the history of Black culture, the Century Cycle lives on and its works continue to be embraced by new generations of viewers. Despite his extraordinary relevance within African American and American literature, theatre and culture, August Wilson is still too little known to the general public in Italy. None of his plays have ever been staged in Italy; indeed, none have ever been translated into Italian, with the exception of a few university theses (on Fences and The piano lesson).

THE WILSON PROJECT promotes, among Italian citizens, organizations and institutions, knowledge and understanding of the figure and work of August Wilson (Pittsburgh, 27 April 1945 – Seattle, 2 October 2005) as well as of the social and cultural context in which he lived and worked, relating them to the challenges of contemporary society.

In particular, the project will culminate with the theatre debut, for the first time ever, of the Italian version of a work by August Wilson: Jitney. The production will be called Jitney by August Wilson, and will be directed by Renzo Carbonera and performed by a cast composed entirely of Italian actors of African origin: Alessandra Arcangeli, Yonas Aregay, Maurizio Bousso, Germano Gentile, and Aron Tewelde. Accompanying the production process of the show is a programme of activities to deepen and involve the public, linked to August Wilson and the themes of the project.

The project is realized with the support of the US Consulate General in Milan, by La Piccionaia Centro di Produzione Teatrale in collaboration with partners August Wilson Legacy LLC, University of Padua – DiSLL Department of Linguistic and Literary Studies, University of Pittsburgh – European Studies Center.

translation and study

In the course of 2021, prior to the start of The Wilson Project, the consortium’s academic partners – the University of Padua and the University of Pittsburgh – realised (through a joint effort that brought to bear the most recent tools and acquisitions in the field of translation studies and cultural mediation, and that was supervised by Constanza Romero-Wilson, Executive Director of August Wilson Legacy LLC) the first ever translation of Jitney into Italian.

We decided to focus on Jitney because, although it is the eighth work of the Century Cycle (it is set in 1977), it was the first to be written (in 1982). Moreover, being written (like all the works of the Cycle) – in African-American Vernacular English, and August Wilson being the first writer to have used AAVE in literature, Jitney is the first literary work ever in AAVE. Finally, we considered relevant the fact that Jitney is set in a period – 1977, as mentioned – in which, in Italy, the phenomenon of immigration began to increase, and with it the phenomenon of racism.

The author of the master’s thesis on the translation of Jitney was Angela Soldà, under the supervision of Prof. Fiona Claire Dalziel and Prof. Anna Scacchi, experts in Anglo-American literature, English language, Italian language and literature, and literary translation (Department for Linguistic and Literary Studies, University of Padua). The translation process also included a comparison and revision phase by Prof. Lina Insana (European Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh, where director Renzo Carbonera was a guest in a series of seminars).

Jitney‘s Italian text was the subject of an initial theatrical study, which resulted in a reading staged at the Teatro Astra in Vicenza on July 7th, 2022 as part of the Terrestri d’estate 2022 festival, and at the University of Padua on July 8th, 2022, as part of the AvvicinaMenti festival promoted by DiSLL. The reaging, directed by director Renzo Carbonera and starring actors Yonas Aregay, Germano Gentile, Bintu Ouattara, Aron Tewelde.

Download the foglio di sala from the event in Vicenza 
Download the foglio di sala from the event in Padova

theatrical residencies

During the project, three different theatrical residencies will take place, realised in collaboration with important realities of national research theatre.

About Wilson | February 16th – March 3rd, 2023 | Villa Manin – Udine

The residency will take place as part of the project Dialoghi Residenze delle arti performative a Villa Manin, conceived and curated by CSS Teatro stabile di innovazione del FVG thanks to the support of MiC – Ministry of Culture, Regione Autonoma Friuli Venezia Giulia, Fondazione Friuli, in collaboration with ERPAC – Ente Regionale Patrimonio Culturale. The team in residence will be made up of Renzo Carbonera (director), Alessandra Arcangeli (musician and actress), Tindaro Granata (actor), Aaron Tewlende (actor), Yonas Aregay (actor), Maurizio Bousso (actor), Germano Gentile (actor), Fabrizio Arcuri (tutor), who will be confronted with some texts taken from August Wilson’s repertoire, with the aim of studying both the work and the social and cultural context in which he lived and worked: a universe populated by stories and characters, problems and values, which still closely concerns us today and calls us to reflect and act in our present, both culturally and socially.

Go to the residency page

Production residency no. 1 | March 30th – April 5th, 2023 | Carrozzerie n.o.t. – Rome

Carrozzerie | n.o.t is a cultural centre that places the creation of new projects related to dance, theatre and performing arts as the cornerstone of its direction. It chooses, as its vocation, the welcoming within its spaces of artistic paths that can find a slow, courageous and far-sighted time to mature an idea even within a complex urban reality such as Rome. The Carrozzerie are also a place for permanent professional and non-professional artistic training and develop, with particular attention, creative and visionary projects aimed at U_18. This space (since ’63 a real body shop in Ponte Testaccio) was redeveloped and renovated in the summer of 2013 as a Cultural Association under the artistic direction of Maura Teofili and Francesco Montagna.

Production residency n. 2 | May 3rd – May 12th 2023 | Teatro Astra – Vicenza

The last period of the residency will be in Vicenza, in the theatre that is the historical seat of La Piccionaia, and will culminate with the presentation, in national preview, of the play Jitney di August Wilson.

black history month vicenza

February is the month dedicated to the history of people of African descent and the history of the African diaspora. Established in 1976 in the United States, where it is called Black History Month or African-American History Month, this celebration occurs in February, the birth month of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln, who signed the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation from Slavery in the United States of America. From the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, Black History Month is spreading to more and more countries around the world, including Italy, in particular thanks to the BHMF Cultural Association’s ‘Black History Month Florence’ project.

The Wilson Project pays homage to Black History Month with “Black History Month Vicenza”, a special event to be held at the Astra Theatre on Friday February 24th, 2023 (6.30 pm). Words and music, between August Wilson and Nina Simone: one, the greatest African-American playwright of the 20th century, defined as the “theatre’s poet of Black America”; the other, the greatest blues and jazz performer, as well as tireless civil rights activist. The result is a reading-concert, directed by Renzo Carbonera, in which actors Alessandra Arcangeli and Aron Tewelde perform excerpts from Jitney, centred on the characters of Rena and Youngblood, and Alessandra Arcangeli herself performs a live selection of songs from Nina Simone’s repertoire. In conclusion, Renzo Carbonera will converse with Riccardo Brazzale, conductor, composer and musician, artistic director of the Vicenza Jazz – New Conversations festival. Free entrance.

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The project envisages an in-depth, experiential and creative path dedicated to the students of a high school in Vicenza. During the course, the students will have the opportunity to meet with a series of experts, in order to deepen their understanding of the project themes, and in particular:

  • Black Theatre in the United States and the figure of August Wilson
  • The African-American Vernacular English
  • The discourse on race in the United States and Italy
  • Afro-Italian voices in the contemporary Italian cultural landscape

At the same time, they will be the protagonists of a series of meetings with Filippo Quezel, actor and theatre director as well as video director, to engage in an active and creative elaboration of the themes addressed, in particular through the use of audiovisual languages, and in dialogue with the creative process of Jitney di August Wilson.


A cycle of four film screenings, curated by the Circolo del Cinema from Verona, at the Cinema Araceli in Vicenza. A programme investigating the theme of African-American identity, through different cinematic approaches. Free entrance.

Wednesday, April 19th| 9 p.m.

Killer of Sheep (1977) directed by Charles Burnett

an LA Rebellion classic by one of the greatest exponents of early African-American cinema

Wednesday, April 26th| 9 p.m.
Fences (2016) directed by Denzel Washington
based on the play of the same name by August Wilson

Wednesday, May 3rd | 9 p.m.
Scappa – Get out (2017) directed by Jordan Peele
the horror-political look

Wednesday, May 10th | 9 p.m.
Sorry to bother you (2018) directed by Boots Riley
the comic-political look

After each screening, a conversation with Renzo Carbonera and the expert of African-American cinema Francesco Lughezzani

Free entrance.


A series of four webinars, with national and international experts from Italy and the United States, to explore the themes of the project. The webinars will be streamed live on La Piccionaia’s YouTube channel and will be available in Italian and English.

August Wilson: il poeta del teatro della Black America
martedì 7 marzo | ore 18
con Constanza Romero-Wilson, Chris Rawson e Renzo Carbonera

August Wilson: The theatre’s poet of Black America
Tuesday, March 7th | 6 pm
with Constanza Romero-Wilson, Chris Rawson and Renzo Carbonera

The Language of Black America. Jitney by August Wilson and its translation into Italian
Tuesday, March 21st | 6 pm
with Lina Insana, Fiona Claire Dalziel and Angela Soldà

The Discourse on Race in the United States and Italy
Tuesday, April 4th| 6 p.m.
with Anna Scacchi and Ngofeen Mputubwele 

Afro-Italian voices in the contemporary cultural and artistic landscape
Tuesday, April 18th| 6 pm
with Igiaba Scego and Ngofeen Mputubwele

performances and workshops

Aldes / Roberto Castello
Friday, March 31st | 9 pm | Teatro Astra

Ubu Prize 2019 finalist as best dance performance

with Zam Moustapha Dembélé and Marco Zanotti (music and performance), and Giselda Ranieri and Ilenia Romano/ Susannah Hieme (dance and voice).

How much has Africa contributed to making us who we are? For many centuries, Europeans and Arabs explored, colonized and converted every corner of the planet. Today, so many cultures are lost and that the West has in many ways become the universal reference. It is impossible to say whether this is good or bad or to know whether the colonized before colonization were more or less happy. The fact remains that the world is becoming smaller and less diverse, full of televisions broadcasting the same programmes and identical shops selling identical products from Greenland to Tierra del Fuego, from California to Madrid to Riyadh to Tokyo. But it often happens in the process of colonization that the conqueror changes irreversibly by coming into contact with the culture of the conquered. This is what Mbira tries to talk about, a concert for two dancers, two musicians and a director, which – using music, dance and speech – attempts to take stock of the complex relationship between our culture and that of Africa.

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Friday, March 31st | 6 pm | Teatro Astra
WORKSHOP on Mbira with the audience members of the Terrestri 2022/23 program (Astraclub)
On the occasion of the performance Mbira, a workshop to explore its themes and share thoughts, expectations and reflections, with the facilitation of the staff of La Piccionaia.

Friday, May 12th | 6 pm | Teatro Astra
WORKSHOP on Jitney di August Wilson with the audience members of the Terrestri 2022/23 season (Astraclub)
On the occasion of the national presentation of Jitney di August Wilson, a workshop to meet the play’s cast, share thoughts and discuss the project’s themes.


The new production “Jitney di August Wilson”, directed by Renzo Carbonera and interpreted by Alessandra Arcangeli, Yonas Aregay, Maurizio Bousso, Germano Gentile, Aron Tewelde, will be presented at the Astra Theatre in Vicenza on Friday 12 May at 9 p.m. Following this, the show will be presented on three other occasions of national importance, by the end of the project (August 2023), and will then be distributed on the national and international theatre market after the end of the project, starting from the 2023/24 season.

La Piccionaia Centro di Produzione Teatrale

by August Wilson
directed by Renzo Carbonera
translation Angela Soldà
with Alessandra Arcangeli, Yonas Aregay, Maurizio Bousso, Germano Gentile, Aron Tewelde
with the support of Consulate General US in Milan 

Since the early decades of the 20th century, due to the racial segregation that, de jure or de facto, separates whites and blacks in the United States, an alternative transport service to the regular bus and taxis, which are too expensive, do not go to those neighbourhoods and above all do not pick up blacks, has developed in the majority African-American neighbourhoods of northern cities. These are the jitneys or gypsy cabs, which operate outside the law, but provide job opportunities and do an important community service, similar to the modern Uber.

In 1970s Pittsburgh, USA, the only way for an African American to get around his neighbourhood is to use this illegal taxi, the jitney. August Wilson takes us inside a jitney station in 1977 in Pittsburgh. On stage, the stories of some of the taxi drivers and their passengers alternate with the syncopated rhythm of jazz and street language, questioning how to heal the wounds of the past and have faith in an uncertain future. Through their voices, Wilson lets us discover the stories, conflicts and small victories of an African-American community that, despite the achievements of the civil rights movement, continues to be excluded from the so-called ‘American dream’.

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Over the years, three plays of the American Century Cycle have been adapted for cinema, with the films The Piano Lessons, Fences and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, released in 1995, 2016 and 2020 respectively (only the last two available with Italian subtitles).  However, this still does not allow Italian audiences to experience August Wilson’s work in its original, theatrical dimension. There are two main reasons for this: firstly, the difficulty of translating African-American Vernacular English (AAVE), the linguistic variety used by Wilson, which is closely linked to the history of displacement, oppression and marginality of African-Americans, and to the rich oral culture of the community (in addition to the lack, in our language, of words and nuances to express race); secondly, the extremely limited presence, in Italian theatre, of actors of African descent (the only ones who can interpret Wilson’s work and his African American characters without falling into a form of cultural appropriation).



The aim of the project is to stage and present August Wilson’s Jitney on Italian stages, combining the process of creation and performance with an audience education programme. The project will be aimed at a wide range of audiences, and will be linked to Wilson’s figure, work and language, as well as to the cultural and social context in which he lived and worked, also in relation to the challenges of contemporary society. Moreover, the project will promote the visibility of people with a migrant background who play a positive role in public life (in theatre, in this case), and the innovation and socio-cultural value of theatre and art.

The Wilson Project will enable Italian citizens, public and private institutions and organizations, universities and research centers to explore the universe of one of the main representatives of Black American culture, thus helping them to deepen their knowledge and understanding of American culture beyond the surface and stereotypes. This will contribute to the recognition and promotion of the democratic values shared between the United States and Italy, such as inclusion, equity, and diversity, and to foster engagement in the promotion of human rights through cooperation between the United States and Italy, in particular by drawing on the lessons and experience of the United States regarding a meaningful public debate on race, which in the United States has already been developing for decades while in Italy – with rare exceptions – has yet to begin.

The objectives of the project are:

  • access for the Italian public to August Wilson’s work in its proper dimension (the theatre) and in Italian, for the first time ever
  • accessibility and tools for an in-depth understanding of the figure, work and importance of August Wilson, as well as the historical and cultural context in which he lived and worked, also in relation to the contemporary Italian scenario
  • to deepen the knowledge and understanding of African-American culture within the framework of American culture and society, thus providing a deeper knowledge and understanding of American culture, in all its richness and complexity, beyond stereotypes;
  • of particular importance will be the focus on recognizing the common characteristics between the United States and Italy, also aimed at recognizing and understanding the multi-racial nature of the Italian people – which has been removed from the individual and collective consciousness of Italians – and addressing the issue of racism in Italy;
  • creation of the first Italian theatre company entirely composed of Italian or Italian-speaking actors of African descent.

The long-term goals are:

  • to foster the increase of interest in black and migration studies in Italy among Italian publishers, researchers, universities, research centres, etc., thus favouring an increase of investments by public and private institutions;
  • to contribute to raising awareness on racism in Italy, to improve the private and public life of black and migrant people in Italy and to support the commitment of local and national institutions to act for the integration of human rights;
  • recognizing the opportunity and benefits for Italy to learn from the experience and lessons of the United States on the development of the discourse on race within the public debate, institutions, art, academic studies, etc., thus contributing to initiate a meaningful public debate on racism in Italy as well, thus fostering awareness and social inclusion, and institutional commitment in the fight against racism and prejudice, promoting human rights in Italy, on the basis of the democratic values shared between the United States and Italy, on which cooperation between the United States and Italy should be strengthened at a cultural and social level;
  • fostering the broadening of the Italian theatre scene to include lesser-known but very important US authors to increase its cultural capacity;
  • to foster an increase in the participation of Black actors in Italian theatre, as well as of actors with a migrant background in general, with two results: – to increase the participation and visibility of people with a migrant background in public life with positive and recognized roles, thus fostering social inclusion and equity as shared democratic values between the United States and Italy;
  • to promote inclusive development of Italian theatre, opening it up to new artists from different backgrounds to nurture its capacity for innovation, artistic and cultural value, and its relationship with the contemporary world and its challenges, thereby also fostering advocacy between public and private institutions.


The project is realized with the support of the US Consulate General in Milan, by La Piccionaia Centro di Produzione Teatrale in collaboration with partners August Wilson Legacy LLC, University of Padua – DiSLL Department of Linguistic and Literary Studies, University of Pittsburgh – European Studies Center.