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Red Door Project Prompts Dialogue About Race

OPB | Dec. 6, 2012 12:25 p.m. | Updated: Sept. 11, 2013 12:20 a.m.

The August Wilson Red Door Project is using August Wilson’s plays to prompt dialogue about race in Portland, a city known for its whiteness. The red door refers to a theme that recurs in several of Wilson’s plays. According to the Red Door Project,

Wilson introduced the ‘red door’ as the entryway to the Pittsburgh home of his character, Aunt Ester…She represents the healing from a society ripped apart by the legacy of slavery and racism. Those who walk through her red door are taken on a journey of transformation and redemption.

Aunt Ester appears in four of Wilson’s plays including King Hedley II, which opens with preview performances at Portland Playhouse Dec. 6. The Red Door Project was also involved in Artist Repertory Theater’s fall production of Wilson’s Seven Guitars. The project has created opportunities for theater-goers to engage in conversations about race both before and after the performances.

Have you participated in any of the Red Door Project’s dialogues? What’s your take on race in Portland? What role do the arts play in conversations about race?

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