Press Release - ​​Gem of the Ocean

August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean at South Coast Repertory

COSTA MESA, Calif. (Sept. 27, 2017)— August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean will continue South Coast Repertory’s 2017-18 season. With quiet power and undeniable beauty, Gem of the Ocean transports audiences to 1904 Pittsburgh and tells a story that mixes legends from the past with notes of hope for the future. Kent Gash will direct Gem of the Ocean on the Segerstrom Stage, Oct 14-Nov. 11, 2017. Tickets are available at

Of Wilson’s plays, Gash said: “His work is a consistent benchmark of excellence for its unflinching truth, its complex vision of humanity and the power of August Wilson’s poetry. Every time I work on his plays, I feel I become a stronger director because each play demands something.”

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Fences and Jitney comes this story of liberty, justice and redemption. Gem of the Ocean is set in 1904, nearly 50 years after slavery ended, but at a time when freedom is still precarious. Many former slaves and descendants venturing north find themselves at Aunt Ester’s door in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. A renowned cleanser of souls claiming to be 285 years old, Ester provides solace, advice and healing. Citizen Barlow, racked with guilt because he let another man take the rap for his crimes, desperately wants to be pure again—and Aunt Ester may be his only hope. In Gem of the Ocean—the play that begins August Wilson’s famed American Century Cycle, a decade-by-decade series that dramatizes the African-American experience during the 20th century—redemption is found only at the end of a mystical and hard-fought journey. 

The cast for Wilson’s powerful play includes Shinelle Azoroh (as Black Mary) who performed at the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre in Blues for an Alabama Sky and on TV’s “Code Black”; Preston Butler III (Citizen Barlow) featured in Dead Awaken at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the film Power to the People; L. Scott Caldwell (Aunt Ester), a Tony Award-winner in August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, among her many honors and accolades on stage in film and on TV (“Lost”); Cleavant Derricks (Solly Two Kings) from Broadway’s Dreamgirls (Tony Award) and TV’s “Sliders”; Hal Landon Jr. (Rutherford Selig), longtime SCR favorite and coming up on his 38th year as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol; Matt Orduna (Eli) from Wilson’s Fences at International City Theatre and TV’s  “NCIS”;  and Arnell Powell (Caesar) from the national tour of Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk and TV’s “Greenleaf.”

The design and creative team includes Ed Haynes, scenic design; Susan Tsu, costume design; Dawn Chiang, lighting design; Lindsay Jones, sound design; and Joanne DeNaut, CSA, casting. The production manager is Joshua Marchesi, and the stage manager is Jamie Tucker.

Gem of the Ocean has generous support from Honorary Producers John and Mary Tu.

Tickets start at $23. Discounts are available for full-time students, patrons 25 years of age and under, fulltime educators, seniors and groups of 10 or more. For complete information, visit:

Related Information for ​​Gem of the Ocean

Tickets: May be purchased online at, by phone at (714) 708-5555 or by visiting the Box Office at 655 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa. Performances run Oct. 14-Nov. 11. Ticket prices start at $23. Low-priced previews run Oct. 14-19. SCR’s performances run Tuesdays-Sundays; there are no performances on Mondays.

Performance Dates, Times

  • Previews run Oct. 14-19
    • Saturday at 8 p.m., Oct. 14.
    • Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 15; and Oct. 17-19.
  • Regular performances run Oct. 21-Nov. 11 Note: Friday, Oct. 20, is an invitation-only performance.
    • Evening Performances:
      • Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.: Oct. 22, Oct. 24-26; Oct. 29; Oct. 31-Nov. 2; Nov. 5; Nov. 5; and Nov. 7-9.
      • Fridays-Saturdays, at 8 p.m.: Oct. 21; Oct. 27-28; Nov. 3-4; and Nov. 10-11
  • Matinees:
    • Saturdays-Sundays, at 2:30 p.m.: Oct. 21-22; Oct. 28-29; Nov. 4-5; and Nov. 11.
      • ASL-interpreted: Saturday, Nov. 4, at 2:30 p.m.

Special Events

  • Post-Show Discussions: Wednesday, Oct. 25, and Tuesday, Oct. 31. Discuss the play with cast members of Gem of the Ocean during free post-show discussions led by South Coast Repertory’s literary team. Segerstrom Stage.
  • Inside the Season: Saturday, Oct. 28, from, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Led by members of SCR’s literary staff, this lively two-hour session includes in-depth interviews with cast members and artists from the production staff, revealing secrets and offering insights into SCR’s production of Gem of the Ocean.  Segerstrom Stage. Tickets are $12 and may be purchased in advance or at the door.
  • American Sign Language-Interpreted: Saturday, Nov. 4, at 2:30 p.m.
Current and Upcoming Productions: Once, with book by Enda Walsh and music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, through Sept. 30; Curve of Departure by Rachel Bonds, through Oct. 15; Ella Enchanted: The Musical by Karen Zacarias, Oct. 27-Nov. 12 (Theatre for Young Audiences); A Christmas Carol adapted by Jerry Patch, Nov. 24-Dec. 24; Sugar Plum Fairy by Sandra Tsing Loh, Dec. 3-24; Shakespeare in Love adapted by Lee Hall, Jan. 13-Feb. 10; and Junie B. Jones is not a Crook by Allison Gregory, Jan. 26-Feb. 11 (Theatre for Young Audiences). More information is available at

ABOUT SOUTH COAST REPERTORY: Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, founded in 1964 by David Emmes and Martin Benson, is widely recognized as one of the leading professional theatres in the United States. While its productions represent a balance of classic and modern theatre, SCR is renowned for its extensive new-play development program, which includes the nation’s largest commissioning program for emerging and established writers. One-quarter of SCR’s 525 productions have been world premieres. SCR-developed works have garnered two Pulitzer Prizes and eight Pulitzer nominations, several Obie Awards and scores of major new-play awards. Located in Costa Mesa, Calif., SCR is home to the 507-seat Segerstrom Stage, the 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage and the 94-seat Nicholas Studio.