Adolphus Ward is well-known to Fountain audiences for his mesmerizing and award-winning work as an actor in such acclaimed productions as Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Coming Home, and The Train Driver. What you may not know is that he is also a writer: a published novelist.
Adolphus has been honored with acting awards from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle and the LA Weekly. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration and has received writing awards from the Wisconsin Arts Board, Playwrights’ Fellowship, and the National Endowment For The Arts.
Ward has written an African-American trilogy chronicling the Tallman family: Harvest the Dust, Milk the Iron Cow, and Stand Upside Down. Harvest the Dust introduces the sharecropper’s family during the 1930’s Great Depression. Milk the Iron Cow explores how Milwaukee factories changed in the 1940’s from making autos and washing machines to building warplanes and bombs, as the Tallmans find themselves embroiled in labor struggles and the start of the civil rights movement. Stand Upside Down rests on grandson Calvin Tallman’s shoulders, which evoke white corporate shivers behind unfair policies for Black workers in the 1980’s
Adolphus in the Fountain cafe with playwright Athol Fugard.
How long have you been writing novels?
I am a writer of African-American Family Fiction. I’ve completed three novels following the lives of three successive generations of the same family. I began work on the trilogy September 1984 — I was learning to write fiction while working on the first novel: Harvest the Dust.
What lead you to write this trilogy?
My story grew to be much too involved for one story.
How does writing compare to acting for you, in terms of artistic expression?
The aim of acting and writing is, I think, much the same. Both actor and writer works to have the audience completely involved in the story. They are different in that one works on the stage and the other on the page.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a one-man show bringing elements of the trilogy to the stage. Also, doing preliminary work on a fourth novel.
Adolphus Ward in "The Train Driver".
Describe your relationship with the Fountain Theatre.
I’ve lived long enough to know that people are the most important element in the quality of my life experiences. I feel that way about family, friends, and the places I hold membership. From the start the Fountain Family has been like blood-family-members to me. Ben Bradley introduced me to the rest of the staff, some patrons, and it was — and still is — like I’ve known them for years. I love the Fountain Theatre.
Of the Fountain productions you’ve appeared in, which is your favorite?
Were I working in a production my favorite would be that one — my next production at the Fountain will be my favorite.
Any specific acting moment on stage at the Fountain stand out as particularly memorable?
Going to the City of Bones in Gem of the Ocean. Thanks August, it was a damn good trip.
Adolphus Ward and Jeris Poindexter in August Wilson's "Gem of the Ocean".