Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival launches Main Stage season with August Wilson’s How I Learned What I Learned


Contact: Tina Slak

June 23, 2021

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival celebrates its 30th  anniversary and launches the  Main Stage season with its debut of August Wilson’s groundbreaking play How I Learned What I Learned. The production previews at 6:30pm on Tuesday, June 29 and Wednesday, June 30. Opening night is Thursday, July 1 and the production runs through July 11 at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University in Center Valley, PA.

Written and originally performed by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson, How I Learned What I Learned explores autobiographical insights into the career of one of America’s greatest writers. This theatrical memoir charts Wilson’s life and artistic journey, from growing up in Pittsburgh’s Hill District to the completion of Fences (originally slated for PSF’s 2020 summer season) and other plays in his renowned American Century Cycle. In a moving solo performance, Wilson’s poetic power takes center stage, illuminating a vivid portrait of his self-discovery and growth in becoming a Black artist in America.

Wilson’s one-man theatrical memoir will be helmed by veteran stage, film, and television actor Tony Todd. With an acting career spanning more than 30 years, Mr. Todd has an extensive list of credits in all genres. His films include Oliver Stone’s Academy Award-winning Platoon; Lean On Me with Morgan Freeman; Clint Eastwood’s Bird; and the voice of the Fallen in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen; among many others.

The charismatic six-foot-five actor is perhaps best known for his chilling performances in horror and sci-fi films including the title role in the Candyman franchise, as well as the Hatchet and Final Destination franchise hits, along with Night of the Living Dead, The Crow, and The Rock.

Mr. Todd has received accolades for numerous roles on stage including a coveted Helen Hayes Award for his performance in Athol Fugard’s The Captain’s Tiger at the La Jolla Playhouse, Manhattan Theatre Club, and The Kennedy Center; and originating the title role in the world premiere of August Wilson’s King Hedley II in Pittsburgh, Boston, and Seattle. His addional stage credits include Zooman & the Sign, Playboy of the West Indies, Les Blancs, Othello, Aida on Broadway, and many others, including Troy Maxson in August Wilson’s Fences at the Geva Theatre Center.

How I Learned What I Learned will be directed by Christopher V. Edwards, who was previously slated to direct last season’s Fences. Mr. Edwards has recently joined PSF’s staff as Distinguished Artist & Consultant, providing insight and guidance for planning, programming, organizational development, diversity and inclusion. Edwards is the artistic director of the Actors’ Shakespeare Project in Boston. Prior, he was the artistic director of Nevada Conservatory Theatre in Las Vegas and he was the associate artistic director and a 14-year company member with the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in New York, where he directed and acted in more than 30 productions.

Originally performed by August Wilson himself in 2003, just a few years before his death, the one-man show recounts Wilson’s past life experiences and how they shaped his future and growth in becoming a Black artist in America. Edwards describes How I Learned What I Learned as, “a love letter to the theatre and a love letter to this man (August Wilson) and the work that he set down as a supporter of his culture. I hope the audience is affected by the brilliance of this man and what he went through.”

How I learned What I Learned includes costume design by Kendra L. Johnson; set design by Baron E. Pugh;  sound design by David M. Greenberg; lighting design by Jason Lynch; and projection design by CJ Barnwell. The production dramaturg is Nadia Leinhos and the production stage manager is Alex Murphy.

Single tickets for How I Learned What I Learned and all summer productions will are available to purchase online at or by calling the box office at 610.282.WILL [9455].

How I Learned What I Learned will be performed on the Festival’s indoor Main Stage to a limited capacity, socially distanced audience. The show will preview at 6:30pm on June 29 and June 30. Opening night is Thursday, July 1 at 6:30pm, and the production runs through July 11.

The Festival’s 2021 Season Sponsor is Douglas Dykhouse. The Associate Season Sponsors are Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan, the Szarko Family, and Harry C. Trexler Trust.

Summer 2021 Season:

Outdoor Stage:

Charlotte’s Web (10:00am):

Opens June 29 through July 31

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (6:30pm):

Previews, July 7 & July 8; Opens, July 9 through Aug 1

 In Concert with Phoenix Best (6:30pm): One-Night-Only, July 12

Main Stage:

How I Learned What I Learned (6:30pm):

Previews, June 29 & June 30; Opens, July 1 through July 11

An Iliad (6:30pm):

Previews, July 20 and July 21; Opens, July 22 through Aug 1

 Virtual to Stream (dates/times at

Charlotte’s Web

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Native Gardens

An Iliad

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival features acclaimed actors from Broadway, television, and film, and is traditionally the summer home to more than 200 artists from around the country, including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Emmy, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Jefferson, and Barrymore awards.