by August Wilson

Directed by Jennifer L. Nelson

Sep 28 - Nov 6, 2016

Low-priced Previews Sep 28 - Oct 6, 2016

In the backyard of a Pittsburgh tenement in 1948, friends gather to mourn for a blues guitarist and singer who died just as his career was on the verge of taking off. The action that follows is a flashback to the busy week leading up to Floyd's sudden and unnatural death. Seven Guitars is part bawdy comedy, part dark elegy and part mystery. This lyrical play is the fifth in August Wilson's ten-play cycle which charts the African-American experience through each decade of the 20th century and is performed in rep with King Hedley II.

"Rich, music-drenched drama" - New York Times

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Study Guide

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PG-13 for strong language, adult content, and brief violence.

Running Time: 3:00


Ro Boddie (Floyd)
Regional: Stupid F**king Bird (Con, Cygnet Theatre); Blueprints to Freedom (Martin Luther King Jr, La Jolla Playhouse and Kansas City Repertory Theatre co-production); The Whipping Man (John, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre); Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Horatio, American Players Theatre); Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Sylvester, CENTERSTAGE and Philadelphia Theatre Company co-production); Dirt (Studio Theatre); Angel’s in America (Belize, Helen Hayes Nomination); Seven Guitars (Floyd Barton, Helen Hayes Nomination). TV/Film: The Good Wife, Person of Interest, Unforgettable. Education: University of the North Carolina School of the Arts.
Laurence Brown (Canewell)
Laurence Brown is a San Diego native and a member of SAG/Aftra. He attended Dillard University in New Orleans. His most recent production was Ion's Jesus Hates Me. Some more of his local theater credits include Moxie Theater’s WET and Devil Dog Six, Cygnet Theater’s A Rasin in the Sun, Piano Lesson, Gem of the Ocean, and The Motherf**ker with the Hat. Some of his national commercial and TV credits include: Buick, Hulu Plus, Chevy, Scrubbing Bubbles, Monk and Icarly
Yolanda Franklin (Vera)
After a successful Off-Broadway run in New York City, Critics Circle Award Winner, Yolanda Franklin, is excited to return to Cygnet Theatre. Ms. Franklin was Mrs. Webb in the Cygnet production of Our Town. Other Theatre Credits: Peter J Sharp NYC/Ion Theatre: Sea Of Souls (Lila); Ion Theatre: night, Mother (Jessie), This Wide Night (Lorraine), Little Flower of East Orange (Magnolia); La Jolla Playhouse: Refuse or the Golden Door (WOW Festival), The Brothers Paranormal (Delia, Reading); Moxie Theatre: Our Lady of Kibeho (Sister Evangelique), A Raisin in the Sun (Ruth Younger), Dead Man's Cell Phone (Other Woman/Carlota), Gibson Girl (Ruth Gibson); New Village Arts: To Kill A Mockingbird (Calpurnia), Trip to Bountiful (Jessie Mae); Diversionary Theatre: Divine Sister (Sister Acacius), Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler (Mammy); Common Ground Theatre: For Colored Girls (Lady in Orange), Handel's Messiah-A Soulful Celebration (Host), Four Queens No Trump (Jocenia).
Antonio TJ Johnson (Hedley)
Previously at Cygnet: True West, Fool for Love, Gem of the Ocean (San Diego Critics Circle nomination), The Piano Lesson, The Matchmaker and Fences (San Diego Critics Circle Award, Patte Award). Other awards include Dramalogue Award (Stories About the Old Days), Playbill Award (Buried Child) and 2012/2013 Resident Artists at UCSD's Thurgood Marshall College. Antonio has become a cycling enthusiast traveling thousands of miles in support of causes he feels valuable to society, specifically personal health and cures for diseases such as HIV and Diabetes, and social issues including support for the American veteran and homeless youth. Please find more info and support his many projects at
Grandison Phelps III (Red)
Grandison is thrilled to be a part of Cygnet Theatre’s repertory production of Seven Guitars and King Hedley II. This marks his fourth and fifth productions of August Wilson’s plays with Cygnet Theatre, which include Fences, Piano Lesson and Gem Of The Ocean. His credits include To Kill a Mockingbird and a reoccurring role in An American Christmas (Lamb’s Players); Carousel in Concert (The Barn Stage Company); Bulrusher, As You Like It (New Village Arts); Sweet Bird Of Youth (La Jolla Playhouse); I’m Not Rappaport (Patio Playhouse); The Gospel at Colonus, God’s Trombones (Ira Aldridge Players); Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and the title role in Othello (Octad Productions) to name a few. Grandison wishes to thank his family and friends for their continued love and support, especially the love and support of his wife without whom doing what he loves would not be possible.
Milena Phillips (Louise)
Milena is extremely excited to make her Cygnet Theatre debut. Her stage credits include: Jaclyn in Rasheeda Speaking, Ruth in the US Premiere of Calendar Girls, Dinah in Dixie Swim Club, and she was a nominee for Best Actress for her role as Marrell in THIS at the Patio Playhouse. Film/TV: The Bold and The Beautiful, Sunset Beach, and Silk Stalkings. She is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Jonathan Sellers and Charlie Keever Foundation whose mission is to educate children on how to stay safe. Milena with her long time friend, Deborah Dorn, co-authored the children’s book Always Fly Away written in honor of her son’s memory (available at Milena’s love for singing comes naturally as she is the 2nd cousin to the legendary blues singer Muddy Waters.
Yvonne (Ruby)
Yvonne graduated from San Diego State University May 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts and a few minors. As a solo artist, she has appeared on television shows such as Duets, Fox’s 3 Minutes to Stardom, Let’s Make a Deal, and Chasing Destiny. Yvonne has had the opportunity to sing for famous musicians such as John Legend, and more recently Kelly Rowland on BET. In addition, she has been in various musicals around San Diego and Los Angeles County including her standout role was Rizzo in Grease at the Welk Resort Theatre. Be sure to follow Yvonne on Instagram @officialyvonne.


Creative Team

Jennifer L. Nelson (Director)

Ms. Nelson is a Washington DC-based theatre professional with a commitment to living and working a consistent principle that values human dignity, justice, compassion and creativity. In her more than 40 years as a theatre professional, she has been an actor, director, playwright, administrator and professor. Her professional career began at Arena Stage with the Living Stage Theatre Company.  She next served as Producing Artistic Director of the African Continuum Theatre Company, at that time the only professional African American theatre in Washington. During her tenure there she directed more than twenty productions and readings, including several world premieres.

Directing credits include productions at Mosaic Theater, where she is resident director; Ford’s Theatre, where she currently serves as Senior Artistic Advisor; Round House; Theatre J; Forum Theatre; Imagination Stage; Adventure Theatre; Washington Shakespeare; Rep Stage; Everyman Theatre; the Hangar Theatre; Penumbra Theatre; the Fulton Theatre; Manhattan Class Company; Young Playwrights Theater; and the Kennedy Center Youth and Family Programs. She has also directed at two campuses of the University of Maryland; George Washington University; Virginia Commonwealth University; and University of South Carolina.

Ms. Nelson is also a working playwright: her play Torn from the Headlines won the Helen Hayes/Charles MacArthur Award for Most Outstanding New Play.  Most recently he play Run Home was presented as part of the 2015 Women’s Voices Festival. Ms. Nelson has taught at UCLA, George Washington University, George Mason University and American University, and most recently at Georgetown University where she taught Theatre for Social Change, encouraging young artists and scholars to put their creative intelligence in service to communities in need. She is past president of the League of Washington Theatres and served on the Board of Directors of the Theatre Communications Group.

Lydia Fort (Associate Director)
Ms. Fort has directed at Diversionary Theatre, Perseverance Theatre, Women’s Project Theatre, Women Center Stage, Urban Stages, McCarter Theatre YouthInk! Festival, New Federal Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem, freeFall Theatre, Hangar Theatre, Planet Connections Festivity (where she was honored with the 2013 Best Director and Greener Planet Awards) as well as other festivals including the New Black Fest, 48 Hours in Harlem and the Fire This Time Festival. She was a Time Warner Foundation Fellow of the 2012-2014 Lab at Women’s Project Theater, a TCG New Generations Future Leaders Grantee, New York Theatre Workshop Directing Fellow, and Drama League Directing Fellow. Lydia received a BA from New York University and an MFA in Directing from the University of Washington.
Melanie Chen (Sound Designer)
Melanie is thrilled to be working with Cygnet Theatre again! She is a San Diego based freelance sound designer who has designed over 50 productions in San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. This past summer, she assistant sound designer Sten Severson at the Old Globe on Love's Labor's Lost and Macbeth on the Festival Stage. Recent credits include: Plays by Young Writers Festival 2015 with The Playwrights Projection at the Old Globe; Our Lady of Kibeho at Moxie Theatre; Now You See It, Way Downriver, Hedda Gabler, Ain't Misbehavin' and The Cocktail Hour at North Coast Repertory Theatre. Coming up, she will be designing The Cherry Orchard at Pomona College in Clairemont, Laughter on the 23rd Floor at North Coast Rep, The Two Gentlemen of Verona with the USD/Old Globe MFA program, and La Jolla Playhouse's POP Tour in 2017. Melanie holds an M.F.A. in Sound Design for Theatre & Dance from UC San Diego.
Sean Fanning (Lighting Designer)
Sean is a Southern California based scenic designer and Resident Artist of Cygnet, where he has designed over twenty productions including Gypsy, Dogfight, Hay Fever, The Vortex, The Whale, Sons of the Prophet, Pageant, Maple & Vine, The Importance of Being Earnest, Travesties, Shakespeare’s R&J, Man of La Mancha, Parade, and many more. Elsewhere: Full Gallop (Craig Noel Award Nomination), A Doll’s House, Plaid Tidings, Kingdom (The Old Globe); Everybody’s Talkin’: The Music of Harry Nilsson, Honky, In the Heights, (San Diego Repertory Theatre); My Mañana Comes (Marin Theatre Company); Brownsville Song (Moxie Theatre); Now or Later, the World Premiere of The Boy Who Danced on Air (Diversionary Theatre); West Side Story (San Diego Musical Theatre); The Improv at Harrah’s and Menopause The Musical (Harrah’s Las Vegas);. He holds an M.F.A. in Scenic Design from San Diego State University. See more of his work at
Peter Herman (Wig & Makeup Designer)
Cygnet Theatre: Costumes and Wig/Makeup Design for Shakespeare’s R&J, Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Wigs/Makeup Design for Gypsy, Stupid F**king Bird, The Rocky Horror Show, When the Rain Stops Falling, Hay Fever, The Vortex, Dogfight, My Fair Lady, Sons of the Prophet, Pageant, Fool for Love, True West, The Motherf**ker with the Hat, Spring Awakening, Maple and Vine, The Importance of Being Earnest, Travesties, Company, Assassins, A Christmas Carol, Gem of the Ocean, Mistakes Were Made, Man of La Mancha, Dirty Blonde, Parade, A Behanding in Spokane, The Glass Menagerie, Little Shop of Horrors, Our Town, Cabaret, The Norman Conquests, Private Lives, Sweeney Todd. Elsewhere: Peter has designed hair and wigs for over 300 productions, including the La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego Rep, San Diego Opera, Disneyland, and various film and television projects. Film: Costume design for Ready? OK! Peter currently teaches wigs and makeup at SDSU.
Veronica Murphy (Costume Designer)
Cygnet Theatre: The Turn of the Screw, Bug, Yellowman, Fences, A Number, Sons of the Prophet, Stupid F**king Bird; Lamb’s Players Theatre: The Sneeze, Tartuffe, Amadeus, Flight, Oklahoma Rigs, Lettice & Lovage, The Diviners, Becoming Memories, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Boys Next Door, The Diary of Anne Frank, Much Ado About Nothing, Barefoot in the Park and a host of others. Veronica is the Artistic Director and Co-Founder, with partner Walter Ritter, of Write Out Loud. She is the 2013 recipient of the Deborah Salzer Excellence in Arts Education Award and a 2015 10News Leadership Award.
R. Craig Wolf (Lighting Designer)
R. Craig Wolf has taught and designed lighting nationwide for both theatre and dance. Credits include designs for New York's Dance Theatre Workshop, Theatre Artaud in San Francisco, Japan America Center in Los Angeles, SRT in Santa Rosa, and the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. In addition, Craig is resident designer for Native Voices at the Autry (Los Angeles). Former Head of the Design Area and Professor Emeritus of Stage Design at San Diego State University, Mr. Wolf is the co-author of Scene Design and Stage Lighting, now in its tenth edition. Craig is pleased to be designing for Cygnet Theatre again this season.
Craig Campbell (Stage Manager)

Craig is so thrilled to be back at Cygnet this season, having worked on last year’s Coward Rep; Hay Fever & The Vortex.  Other local area credits include: 42nd Street, La Cage aux Folles, West Side Story (SDMT); Peter Pan & The Music Man (Moonlight) The Tallest Tree in the Forest, Kingdom City & The Who and the What (LaJolla Playhouse)  Prior to this life, Craig worked as a Coordinating Producer & Production Manager for several award winning home makeover and lifestyle shows with HGTV, Style Network, Travel Channel and VH1.

Andie Fitch (Production Assistant)
Andie recently began her professional stage management career at Cygnet as Assistant Stage Manger for Gypsy. She graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Arts in General Theatre Arts where she stage managed various productions such as Water by the Spoonful and The Great American Trailer Park Musical. And she just finished a nine month stage management internship at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa where she was fortunate enough to work on shows such as Pinocchio and Amadeus.
Maria Mangiavellano (Assistant Stage Manager)
Maria is delighted to be working with Cygnet Theatre. She was last with Cygnet this past spring stage managing The Rocky Horror Show. Previously at Cygnet: Dogfight. Most of her work in San Diego in the last 12 years has been with Lamb's Players Theatre. Favorite productions there include: Wit, Metamorphoses, 1776, Around The World In 80 Days, An American Rhythm, The Glory Man, Enchanted April, Thunder At Dawn and many others. Locally, she has also Stage Managed for Moonlight Stage Productions, North Coast Repertory Theatre, San Diego Repertory Theatre and, long ago, La Jolla Playhouse. She holds an MFA in Theatre from UCSD.
Kyle Montgomery (Assistant Lighting Designer)
Kyle recently graduated from SDSU with his BA in Design and Technology for Theatre. While attending SDSU he became involved with Cygnet Theatre assisting local San Diego lighting designers. As an assistant lighting designer for last year's production of A Christmas Carol, Kyle is excited to be returning this year as the lighting designer for the remount of the show. Previous credits at Cygnet include: assistant lighting designer for My Fair Lady and The Motherf**ker with the Hat.
George Ye (Fight Choreographer)
Credits include:Stupid Fucking Bird, True West, The Motherf**ker with a Hat, Bug, Communicating Doors, Shakespeare’s R&J; Cygnet Theatre; Macbeth, Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night, Double Indemnity, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, 2013 Shakespeare Festival, Allegiance the musical, August: Osage County, God of Carnage, The Whipping Man, Dancing in the Dark,The Old Globe; Up Here, The Ether Dome, Kingdom City, Peter and the Star Catchers, Blood and Gifts, Hands on a Hard Body, A Dram of Drummhicit, La Jolla Playhouse; Other favorites include: Oedipus El Rey, Claybourne Park, San Diego Rep; The King’s Guard with Ron Pearlman and Eric Roberts. George is head of performance training at San Diego Mesa College, MFA, SAFD, AEA.
My recent pilgrimage to San Diego to see the plays, SEVEN GUITARS and KING HEDLEY II in repertory at Cygnet Theater, was well worth the travel! What a terrific idea to present these two plays together! I realized that one is the gateway to understanding the second. What a pleasure to meet Sean and Bill, their passion and deep understanding for August's work is inspiring. This same love for the material was exhibited by the cast who appeared in both plays, they were excellent! It was a tremendous feat for them to appear in repertory. As both plays express very complex ideas, and the character's monologues are like arias, I was impressed with their great proficiency. The set design, how it changed from the 1940's to the 1980's had many important period details, which depicted Pittsburgh in both decades. The whole team at Cygnet made me feel very proud, I know August Wilson's words are alive and well in San Diego.
- Constanza Romero

Cygnet Supports San Diego Food Bank - Sep 28th
Cygnet Theatre is proud to support the San Diego Food Bank. Through the run of the show, we'll be hosting a food drive in the lobby - bring a donation and help support your community.
San Diego Food Bank Reception - Oct 4th @ 6:30PM
Join SDFB staff and supporters and enjoy a pre-show reception around the corner at The Cosmopolitan Restaurant & Hotel with complimentary appetizers and wine tasting. Must have a ticket for that evening's performance to attend.
Out Night @ Cygnet - Oct 12th @ 6:30PM
Cygnet is proud to present an evening for our theatre loving friends in the LGBT community. Enjoy a pre-show mixer before the performance on Cygnet's beautiful Elaine Lipinsky Patio. Everyone is welcome! A theatre ticket for the evening's performance is required to attend.
Theatre on Tap - Oct 14th @ 7:00PM
Join Cygnet and Thunderhawk Alements for Theatre on Tap! Enjoy a pre-show beer tasting, and mix and mingle with other craft beer lovers. The complimentary tasting begins at 7 pm, followed by an 8:00 pm performance. A theatre ticket for the evening's show is required to attend. Must be 21 to partake.
Friday Forum - An Evening with Constanza Romero
Oct 14th @ 8:00PM
Friday Forum gives you an opportunity to chat with the cast and director following the performance on the first Friday after opening night. Cygnet is honored to be joined by Constanza Romero, the widow of August Wilson, for a special post-show talk back.
Stage Chat with Rob Lutfy (Post-Show)
Oct 15th & Oct 29th @ 8:00PM
Enhance your theatre experience! Join Associate Artistic Director Rob Lutfy in the theatre after the show for a casual chat to learn more about this show!
Stage Chat with Rob Lutfy (Pre-Show)
Oct 26th @ 6:30PM
Enhance your theatre experience! Join Associate Artistic Director Rob Lutfy on the patio before the show for a casual chat to learn more about the show.
Pairings - Nov 2nd @ 7:30PM
An intimate five week course designed to compare and contrast two significant works side by side, while enjoying company and wine.
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