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Joe Turner's Come and Gone


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A: August Wilson Pf: 1986, New Haven, Connecticut Pb: 1988 G: Com. in 2 acts S: Boarding house in Pittsburgh, 1911 C: 5m, 4f, 2 children (1m, 1f)Seth Holly, a northern black in his early fifties, owns a boarding house and makes pots and pans. Other residents of the boarding house are: Jeremy Furlow, a road-worker and guitar player; Bynum Walker, who grows herbs and is a bit of a mystic; and the newly arrived Herald Loomis and his 11-year-old daughter Zonia. Herald has come looking for his wife Martha. Mattie Campbell comes to ask Bynum's help in getting her man back, who had left her after the death of their two babies. Bynum cannot bring her man back but promises her a new one. Immediately, Jeremy asks her to come with him to a concert where he is playing that night. Rutherford Selig, a ‘People Finder’, will try to locate Martha for Loomis. Jeremy wins a prize at the concert, and Mattie agrees to move in with him. An attractive woman Molly Cunningham rents a room in the boarding house. That night they have a wild African dance, interrupted by Loomis, who leaps around speaking in tongues. Jeremy is sacked for refusing to give up some of his wages to a white bully. Jeremy flirts with Molly, and she agrees to be his woman. Bynum realizes that Loomis had been captured for Joe Turner's chain gang and was torn from his family for seven years. Selig finds Martha, and mother and daughter are reunited. When Martha will not take him back, Loomis cuts his chest and at last feels free, ‘cleansed and given breath’.

A: August Wilson Pf: 1986, New Haven, Connecticut Pb: 1988 G: Com. in 2 acts S: Boarding house in Pittsburgh, 1911 C: 5m, 4f, 2 children (1m, 1f)

This is one of the finest of poet August Wilson's plays. Like an African-American version of Gorky's Lower Depths (Bynum having strong similarities with Luka), the lives of poor blacks are explored, together with the effects of continuing racial oppression.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights) — Theatre.


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