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August Wilson’s ‘Seven Guitars’ opens Feb. 8 at Hibernian Hall

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
August Wilson’s ‘Seven Guitars’ opens Feb. 8 at Hibernian Hall
Dereks Thomas and Anthony T Goss in rehearsal for August Wilson’s Seven Guitars. PHOTO: COURTESY OF ACTORS’ SHAKESPEARE PROJECT

Actors’ Shakespeare Project (ASP) returns to Roxbury’s Hibernian Hall this month with a stirring rendition of August Wilson’s “Seven Guitars.” Running Feb. 8 through March 5, this celebrated piece of Wilson’s Century Cycle uses levity, mystery and a lyricism unique to the playwright to probe what it means to be African American.

Anthony T Goss plays Floyd in August
Wilson’s “Seven Guitars.” PHOTO: COURTESY ACTORS’ SHAKESPEARE PROJECT

In the play, seven Black friends gather at the funeral of Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton in 1948. As Floyd’s final days are explored in flashbacks, we learn about each character to help understand what, or who, ended Floyd’s life.

Floyd is played by Roxbury native Anthony T Goss, a versatile actor who’s graced films and television shows including “Blue Bloods,” “Law & Order: SVU” and “A Good Thing,” among others.

Floyd, like so many African American men, or any man that comes from an oppressed society,” says Goss, “he just wants to be better than his circumstances and he wants to believe in something bigger than what he can see. I think that’s what makes it relevant to today and to any time period.”

Anthony T Goss and Maya Carter in rehearsal. PHOTO: COURTESY OF ACTORS’ SHAKESPEARE PROJECT

Goss grew up heavily engaged in sports here in Roxbury, playing for The Boston Raiders, picking up basketball games at the Roxbury YMCA and dreaming of going pro. It wasn’t until after college that he found his true calling was the arts. When Goss discovered that his film hero, Denzel Washington, had a traditional theater background, he realized this was a craft to pursue and hone just like athletics.

“With diversity, you see yourself on stage or in a film and you can identify, you believe that you’re somebody, or that somebody understands you — and that can give you a jumpstart to pursing whatever’s inside of you,” says Goss.

Seeing Washington star in the 2016 film adaptation of Wilson’s “Fences” spurred Goss on even further in his theatrical career. Now, Goss himself takes the stage in a Wilson play.

Wilson is one of the most celebrated American playwrights of the 20th century. His Century Cycle, a series of 10 plays exploring the African diaspora and Black life in the United States between 1900 and 1990, all had runs on Broadway and won Tony Nominations, Pulitzer Prizes and critical acclaim.

Maurice Emmanuel Parent, a member of ASP’s resident acting company, directs “Seven Guitars.” Parent, a talented performer, also is co-founder and co-producing artistic director of The Front Porch Arts Collective, Boston’s Black theater company.

Goss finds it fitting that the upcoming show will run at Hibernian Hall in the heart of Boston’s Black cultural center.

“Hibernian Hall is right around the corner from where I grew up, and it’s a historic landmark venue for our culture and our city,” says Goss. “So to have it here in the heart of Boston and Roxbury where there’s so much history, I don’t think there could’ve been a better place.”