Signature: George C. Wolfe
Signature: George C. Wolfe traces the theatre career and illuminates the artistic and political perspective of the controversial producer, director and playwright.
The documentary is based on two extensive interviews with Wolfe and with many friends, colleagues and critics. They include Gregory Hines, who played Jelly Roll Morton in Wolfe’s production of Jelly’s Last Jam, which he wrote and directed. Lyricist Susan Birkenhead and producers Margo Lion and Pamela Koslow Hines comment on Wolfe’s personality and working style.
Angels in America playwright Tony Kushner, musing on Wolfe’s work as director of the original production, sees “the winds of history” flowing through Wolfe. And Patrick Stewart, playing the role of Prospero in The Tempest in Wolfe’s Public Theatre production in Central Park, describes his directorial style. And writer Thulani Davis and critic John Lahr discuss Wolfe’s political perspective as a black artist.
There are also scenes of Wolfe directing a rehearsal for Bring in Da Noise/Bring in Da Funk at the Public Theatre. The show went on to become one of Wolfe’s biggest hits.
Especially compelling is a sequence filmed of Wolfe re-visiting his home town of Frankfort, Kentucky, where he attended the all-black Rosenwald School. He muses that growing up in segregated Frankfort was, in a bizarre way, the best possible thing for him. And talking about his deceased mother, George attributes his “arrogance” to being an adored child.
The film begins and ends with Wolfe reading from his written work—a brilliant excerpt from The Colored Museum.
Signature: George C. Wolfe was produced for Kentucky Educational Television with funding from the Annenberg Fund. It was broadcast nationally on PBS. Running time – 58 minutes.
The film won a regional Emmy Award and an award as the Public Television Program of the Year from the National Educational Television Association.