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Phylicia Rashad in Gem of the Ocean


Phylicia Rashad performs a scene from Gem of the Ocean (2003) exclusively for August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand. For her role as Aunt Ester, Rashad received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play.

The play premiered in 2003 at the Goodman Theatre, Chicago. In 2004 Gem of the Ocean opened on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre. Marion McClinton directed the Goodman Theatre premiere; Kenny Leon directed the Broadway premiere, which starred Phylicia Rashad (Aunt Ester), Lisa Gay Hamilton (Black Mary), Anthony Chisholm (Solly Two Kings), Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Caesar), Eugene Lee (Eli), Raynor Scheine (Rutherford Selig), John Earl Jelks (Citizen Barlow).

Set in Pittsburgh in 1904, the play features a man whose small crime has had deadly consequences for another man. Feeling guilty, he seeks out the spiritual healing of Aunt Ester. A recurring character in Wilson’s plays, Ester claims to be 285 years old and is the kind matriarch of her household in Pittsburgh, PA.


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