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Hollywood actor Jon Chaffin talks ‘King Hedley II’ and how the production will resonate with current society

Imagine sitting in a theatre and reliving hard economic times, the struggles of keeping the family together, trying to rebuild life and more importantly—trying to survive as a black man living in the United States. That’s exactly what the stage production of King Hedley II does.  This iconic production allows the audience to relive some tough times faced by many African-Americans.

August Wilson who wrote King Hedley II as part of his ten-play cycle tells the story of an ex-con living in Pittsburgh trying to rebuild his life but finds it hard to do so when the trickle-down benefits of all Americans doesn’t seem to also count for the African-American community.

While King Hedley II is set in the 80’s during the Reagan era, Wilson’s explanation of African-American life during that time period is very much relevant in the present time as not much has changed as the rich keeps getting rich and the poor continues to get poorer.

“King Hedley II is the ninth play in August Wilson’s Century Cycle which chronicles the African-American experience decade by decade. King Hedley was actually in Seven Guitars and now we are following his son, King Hedley II in this production,” said Jon Chaffin who plays the character of Mister, the good friend of King Hedley II.

Chaffin’s character Mister has been friends with King since childhood and has gone through many mischievous situations and has also included King in some of his activities as well but is trying to change for the better.

“In the play, my character is trying to have a voice in the world that says we don’t matter. {King Hedley II} is a great production and not well known as some of the other productions in the cycle such as Fences because it’s such a difficult play to put on with all of the elements involved.” said Chaffin.

Fences which is also part of the Wilson’s Century Cycle was recently adapted into an on screen film, starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis who both reprised their role from the 2010 Broadway revival, Chaffin says that many great actors including Washington and Davis oftentimes have theatre experience.

“There is nothing like theatre, you only get that one take and that’s it!” said Chaffin who also said, “There is a level of commitment to theatre as you are up on your feet running the show and training your body. I sort of feel that I am following Denzel’s footsteps, but I also think I’m creating my own path.”

The production of King Hedley II comes at a very elemental time as many of the issues portrayed in the stage play is currently plaguing society.

“Many of the subject matters in this play is very important as you have a young man who is trying to make something of himself in a world that is trying to beat him down.” said Chaffin.

While the production deals with such heavy subject matters, Chaffin also believes that it’s his duty as an actor to help the audience ease their mind.

According to Chaffin, “When people come to the theatre, they see a reflection of themselves and to relate and empathize with the story. These are real stories. I want the audience to feel as if they are watching themselves on the stage because these are real characters.

King Hedley II is currently playing at The Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles and will close out Sunday, February 12th.

Follow Jon Chaffin on social media:

Instagram: jon.chaffin

Facebook: Jon Chaffin

Twitter: jonchaffin


  • Samantha Pounds

    Samantha Pounds is an avid reader, entertainment junkie and loves a good glass of wine. When she is not busy writing or researching she enjoys a career in public relations. A journalist by trade, Samantha received her B.S. from Indiana State University where she majored and minored in public relations and marketing. She also holds her A.S. in journalism.

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