No one can suggest that Marin Theatre Company Artistic Director Jasson Minadakis has commitment issues.

Minadakis has committed Mill Valley’s world class theatrical organization to producing all 10 plays within legendary playwright August Wilson’s century cycle dramatizing the African American experience during the 20th century, an unprecedented series that includes the Pulitzer Prize winning Fences and The Piano Lesson. He’s almost a third of way there.

MTC kicked off the cycle with a production of Seven Guitars in 2011 and Fences in 2014, and is set to continue its 49th season with the debut Gem of the Ocean on January 14.

Set in 1904 Pittsburgh, Gem of the Ocean is chronologically the first in Wilson’s century-cycle series, though it was the second-to-last play he penned (2003). The play is set in the Hill District neighborhood that Wilson himself called home for much of his early life. The most mystical of all of Wilson’s plays, Gem also features Wilson’s ubiquitous matriarch character, the 285 year old “Aunt Ester,” referenced in his other nine plays but seen only in this 1904 story. Bay Area favorite Margo Hall is taking on this role, originated by Phylicia Rashad on Broadway.

New York-based director Daniel Alexander Jones is making his MTC debut at the helm of Gem.

The 411: August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean runs Jan. 14–Feb.14, 2015 at Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Avenue. Running time is 2 hours, 45 minutes. Tix $10–$58. More info, ticket info and discounted childcare via UrbanSitter.

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