Circle Players: The Piano Lesson


Circle Players: The Piano Lesson is in the past.

Circle Players presents August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “The Piano Lesson,” Jan. 18-27, in Lipscomb’s Shamblin Theatre. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; matinees at 3:00 p.m. on Sundays, January 20 and 27, and Saturday, January 26.

The Sunday, Jan.20, performance will feature a talk-back after the production with performers and Lipscomb University adjunct English professor Greg Carpenter, Ph.D., on the panel.

The play is about an African-American family torn between selling an old piano that represents the family's heritage or using the money to make a new start. The piano, in slave days, was once traded for the family’s patriarch and is haunted by the ghosts of the past. “The Piano Lesson” is about a family learning to embrace change while still accepting and acknowledging their shared legacy.

Special discounted tickets are available to Lipscomb University students, faculty, and staff:. The cost is $5 for students and $10 for faculty & staff. Discounted Lipscomb tickets may only be purchased immediately prior to the performances in Shamblin Theater. (The box office opens one hour before each performance). Customers must present Lipscomb campus ID at the time of purchase in order to receive the special discount. Reservations can be made at 

For the general public, tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for students and seniors ages 60 and up. All tickets cost $11 on Thursday, January 24. Tickets can be purchased online at Group discounts for 10 or more in any category are available by emailing or calling (615) 332-7529. Individual tickets will also be on sale at the box office at Shamblin Theater one hour before each performance.


More About “The Piano Lesson”

“The Piano Lesson” is a poetic, powerful drama that also gives important lessons about family heritage and social change during the economic and cultural upheaval of the Depression in a way that still resonates today.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by renowned playwright Wilson tells the story of a brother and sister who fight to claim the family piano—an heirloom with images carved by their great-grandfather while he was a slave. The sister, Berniece, insists on keeping the piano as a piece of art, a reminder of the family's past and a testament of survival. Her brother, Boy Willie, wants to sell it and buy the farm his ancestors worked as slaves. Their bickering stirs up the ghost of a former slave owner.

“The Piano Lesson” is part of August Wilson's "Century Cycle" about African-American life in the 20th century. It premiered in 1987 and opened on Broadway in 1990, winning numerous awards in addition to the Pulitzer. Critics described it as a play that “… seems to sing even as it’s talking…” and “… filled with magnificent confrontations.”

The production is directed by J.P. Schuffman and includes a cast of experienced local actors.

“The play itself is about what we do with our heritage—do we keep it? What do we do with what our forefathers have given us?” says Schuffman. “It seems very simple, but the depth and complexity behind the characters is what makes [the play] so great.”