Jones transports audiences through odyssey of personal growth and artistic awakening

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival. 2022. August Wilson’s, How I learned What I learned. Photo by Jenny Graham

Published online January 27, 2024

By Camille Bounds

Steven Anthony Jones delivers a tour de force performance in TheatreWorks’ “How I Learned What I Learned.”

The autobiographical show illuminates Pulitzer Prize-winner August Wilson’s coming of age as a young poet finding his voice in 1960s Pittsburgh. Like a master jazz musician, Jones rivets the audience through an almost two-hour, intermission-free solo spectacle under Tim Bond’s flawless direction.

Directed by Tim Bond, Jones wholly embodies the cadence and spirit of Wilson as he shares formative stories that shaped the renowned playwright’s outlook and purpose. We journey along as Wilson recounts early jobs, relationships, encounters with racism, hard-learned lessons from a stint in jail, discovering his calling through cinema, and the lifelong friendships seeded in childhood. Throughout moments both humorous and haunting, Jones transports audiences through Wilson’s revelatory odyssey of personal growth and artistic awakening.

With scenic design by Nina Ball artfully transforming the space into Wilson’s poignant memories. Lighting design by Xavier Pierce with Jonah Bobilin as associate lighting designer and sound design by Rasean Davonté Johnson immersing viewers in each vignette the show powerfully spotlights Wilson’s awakening as a black artist in 20th century America. Like a soaring symphonic concerto written for a solo virtuoso, Jones captivates with his masterful storytelling and embodiment of Wilson’s remarkable path to artistic greatness.

For theater that educates, illuminates and inspires, “How I Learned What I Learned” is a must-see. The show closes Feb. 3.



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