AP Language classes see Jitney on Broadway


Photo Credit: Juliet McKinley

The set of August Wilson’s Jitney on Broadway. “The set is really very evocative,” Metch- Ampel said. The set depicts the inside of the jitney station, run by a character named Becker.

by Patricia Whyte, Senior Staff Writer

Students in the AP Language and Composition classes traveled to see Jitney on Broadway on Friday, Feb. 15. The classes saw the production during a unit on argumentative essays and the concept of race in America.

“It’s written by a wonderful African American playwright named August Wilson, and so what he does is bring to the stage and hence to our students, an additional point of view that really enriches my student’s experiences,” Ms. Randi Metch-Ampel said, who teaches the AP Language and Composition classes.

The play, written by August Wilson, is set in 1977 Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, where residents use unofficial, unlicensed taxi cabs called jitneys. The story is about a family who runs one of these jitney stations, tries to make amends as a family and deal with racial struggles of the 1970s. The play is part of a series of plays written by August Wilson called the American Century Cycle, in which each play  focuses on the African American experience of a particular decade of the 20th century.

“They’re all very different, very powerful plays,” Metch-Ampel said. She Says they have “very complex characters, complex themes, and they all resonate with important issues today.”

As well as discussing racial and historical themes, Jitney also deals with universal themes such as father and son relationships, equal justice, forgiveness, accepting the past, and moving forward in life.

“If anybody’s trying to wrestle with these issues today, go see these plays to get a depth of understanding,” Metch-Ampel said.

Matthew Heller (‘18) is one of Metch-Ampel’s students in AP Language and Composition and enjoyed the writing style of the play.

“It was a really good show, actors were amazing, set design was really good, and it was a really well written show as well,” Heller said.

The characters in the play are complex and some do horrible things, but the playwright and the actors show the characters’ humanity as well. Jun Seo (‘19) noted the level of professionalism the actors had as well.

“It was really emotionally packed acting, but you can tell that they were really professional too,” Seo said.

Jitney is the recipient of several awards, including the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Drama Desk Award, and the Drama Critic’s Award.

“I had actually taken my own kids and my family, and I knew it was great, and the kids loved it,” Metch-Ampel said.

Jitney began previews on Dec. 28 of last year, and opened on Jan 19. Due to its success, the show extended its run by two weeks and will close on March 12.