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As turmoil swirls in Pittsburgh's Hill District over a tragedy at the local mill, the "American Century" dawns in Aunt Ester's kitchen when Citizen Barlow arrives to have his soul cleansed by the venerable, 285-year-old soothsayer. Neighborhood personalities mesh and collide as the household prepares for his mystical quest. But with the scars left by the Civil War still fresh, one man's redemption could mean the end of the uneasy calm holding this African-American community together. This first chapter of August Wilson's monumental play cycle, directed by Timothy Douglas (Two Trains Running at Round House Theatre), challenges us to examine our notions of "freedom" in a country where the end of slavery opened the door to more insidious systems of oppression.

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