Seattle Repertory Theatre Seattle Center
Feb 28–March 29
Recommended by Charles Mudede
It is not at all amazing to claim that August Wilson is one of the greatest American playwrights of the 20th century. The more amazing thing to say about Wilson is this: He was the greatest black American economist of the 20th century. Indeed, Wilson's first play, Jitney, is not only a masterpiece of 1970s economics, but it also predicted the rideshare economy of our times. The play, which Seattle Rep is staging under the direction of the talented Ruben Santiago-Hudson, is about black cab drivers who informally serve Pittsburgh's black community because white-owned cabs will not. The business is owned by the play's key character, Jim Becker, a man in his 60s who retired after devoting decades of his life to a Pittsburgh steel plant. In Jitney, we see the capital-starved working conditions for black men who have pensions or served in the army. They do whatever they can to make ends meet. But no matter how much time and innovation they invest in their economy, the returns always fall short of settling real needs.