Tony Marshall as Fielding and Wil Johnson as Becker
Old Vic Theatre 2022
Photo: Manuel Harlan


049 – Jitney, by August Wilson

Jul 5, 2022 | Podcast Episodes | 0 comments

August Wilson’s play Jitney is set in the run-down office of an unlicensed taxi company in a poor black neighbourhood in Pittsburgh in 1977. The cast of characters is the crew of drivers, each of whom has a story to tell, and all of whom depend on the cash earnings from this underground business. Unbeknownst to everyone other than the firm’s boss, Becker, the building they occupy is under notice of demolition, and the business and their livelihoods are under threat. The social and economic challenges that these characters face in 1970s America resonate strongly today, and the relationships and hopes and fears of this ensemble of characters are certainly universal.

Jitney is one of August Wilson’s series of plays known as the Pittsburgh or Century Cycle, which comprise 10 plays about the black experience in America, each one set in a different decade of the 20th century. It was first written in 1979 and performed in Pittsburgh in 1982, but Wilson subsequently rewrote large parts of it in 1996, which led to multiple more productions around the United States, before it was finally produced in New York in April 2000. It received its British premiere at the National Theatre in October 2001, and as we record this it is being revived at the Old Vic Theatre in London in a vibrant, funny and topical new production. 

I am delighted and privileged to be joined in this episode by two members of the cast from the staging of Jitney at the Old Vic: Wil Johnson, who plays Becker, the boss of the taxi firm, and Tony Marshall, who plays Fielding, a funny and poignant character with a fascinating back story.

I heartedly recommend the Old Vic production, directed by Tinuke Craig. It runs at the Old Vic until 9th July 2022, and then is on tour in venues in Worthing, Bath and Cambridge until 6th August 2022.

Wil Johnson

Wil Johnson has an extensive list of TV, film and stage credits, including many familiar TV series such as Cracker, Waking the Dead, Waterloo Road and Emmerdale. His stage appearances include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead at this same Old Vic, Sweat at the Donmar and in the West End, a UK tour of Glengarry Glen Ross and Othello at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh and King Lear at the Royal Exchange in Manchester, among many others.

Tony Marshall

Tony Marshall has had a prolific career as a TV actor, in television series such as Coronation StreetThe BillAll Quiet on the Preston FrontThe Queen’s NoseOnly Fools and Horses, Doctors and Life on Mars. He is perhaps best known for his role as Noel Garcia in Casualty, which he made his own for 12 years until January 2021 when topically his character died of Covid19.

The Texts

If you are interested in buying the play text or other related books, we’d be delighted if you choose to purchase them from our selected partners and Blackwell’s. Not only will you be supporting independent booksellers, we will also earn a small commission on every book you purchase, which helps to keep the podcast going. Click on the cover to buy from our chosen partner. Thank you.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

You might also be interested in …
052 – The Seagull, by Anton Chekhov

052 – The Seagull, by Anton Chekhov

Anton Chekhov’s play The Seagull was a disaster on its opening night in St Petersburg in 1896. The unsettling blend of comedy and pathos that confused the first critics and audience were subsequently recognised as seminal in the evolution of modern drama.

I’m delighted to welcome back playwright and professor, Dan Rebellato, to talk about Chekhov and his timeless play.

051 – Closer, by Patrick Marber

051 – Closer, by Patrick Marber

Patrick Marber’s play Closer depicts a merry-go-round of metropolitan relationships powered by sex and betrayal. Its clever and candid dissection of the destructive power of sexual desire hit a contemporary nerve when it premiered in 1997.
Clare Lizzimore, director of a new production at the Lyric Hammersmith, joins me to explore how the play’s unflinching sexual politics has aged twenty-five years later.

050 – Jerusalem, by Jez Butterworth

050 – Jerusalem, by Jez Butterworth

Jez Butterworth’s play Jersualem is one of the landmark plays of the 21st century, acclaimed for both its lyrical and elusive text exploring English identity, and for its electrifying theatrical production. The once-in-a lifetime performance is happily being repeated with the current West End revival, and it seems fitting that our 50th episode be devoted to this remarkable play. I’m joined by David Ian Rabey, Emeritus Professor at Aberystwyth University and author of The Theatre and Films of Jez Butterworth.