Aunt Ester is 287 years old in 1907, and a survivor of the first slave ships to come to America. As a revered elder in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, she is also regarded as a washer of souls. When Citizen Barlow comes seeking sanctuary for a recent crime, Aunt Ester knows that the cleansing of his troubled soul will require a connection to his ancestors and to his history. So as the sound of the voices of men and women long dead transforms her parlor into a slave ship, she guides Citizen to experience, and understand, the sacrifices of his predecessors.
Phylicia Rashad makes her directorial debut with the Seattle premiere of August Wilson's play. The actress originated the role of Aunt Ester in the Broadway production of Gem.