August Wilson’s JOE TURNER’S COME AND GONE is set in a Pittsburgh boarding house in 1911. Owners Seth and Bertha Holly play host to a makeshift family of people who come to stay, some for days, some longer, during the Great Migration of the 1910s when descendants of former slaves moved in large numbers from the South toward the industrial cities of the North, seeking new jobs, new lives and new beginnings.
Among those on the move are Herald Loomis and his young daughter, Zonia. Haunted by the past, they are headed wherever the road takes them in search of the long gone Martha, Herald’s wife and Zonia’s mother. Herald arrives at the boarding house unsettled, dark and secretive. Seth Holly is suspicious and wants him out almost as soon as he arrives, but Bertha and the others see him differently, and by action and example, they help set him on the way to recovering his lost spirit and finding a new life.