Blues of August

t seems that in the history of a nation there comes a time for epic. It seems that for the L nited States, that time is now. and the medium of choice is the theater. But whereas in Imperial Rome or Czarist Russia a single Virgil or Tolstov could claim to be the mouthpiece for his culture, our Balkanizecl society is giving rise to a whole clamorous chorus of competing voices. Tony Kushner’s Angels in America and Robert Sehenkkan’s The Kentucky Cycle are the most celebrated current examinations of the national identity, but do not forget August Wilson’s ten-play, decade-bydecade survey of the African-American experience in the twentieth century, which, though still in progress, anticipated Kushuer and Schenkkan bv several seasons. The latest chapter opens January 13 at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre (for tickets and information call 312443-3800).

The new Seven Guitars, set in the 1940s, focuses on the blues and people who play them. If Wilson is running true to the form of such earlier plays as The Piano l esson and Ma Rainey ‘s Black Bottom (the mother of them all), music should provide not only atmosphere but also key dramatic material and metaphors. Wilson’s script is once again in the hands of his discoverer and longtime directorial collaborator, Flovd Richards. —A.B.