Monday, November 9, 2009

August Wilson

People often talk about the legacy of Pittsburgh as its long-dead rich benefactors or its old buildings or its steel or even Andy Warhol. My favorite Pittsburgh legend, though, is August Wilson. Until I moved to Pittsburgh, I had no idea who he was. Though I'd walked by the August Wilson Theater on Broadway, I hadn't given its name a thought. Then, I went to see "Two Trains Running" at the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater last year. I learned that August Wilson wrote a fantastic 10-play cycle spanning the entire 21st century, and only finished the last play "Radio Golf" on his deathbed. I learned that these plays were all set in the glory and decline of the Hill District (an area whose history I'd already fallen in love with through the stunning photographs by Teenie Harris.) I learned that they had earned him 2 Pulitzer Prizes, amongst many other awards.

These are seminal plays that should be taught in school alongside "Romeo & Juliet", "The Glass Menagerie", and "The Crucible."

If you missed Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater's production of "Two Trains Running" last year, you have another chance to see it. This week at the August Wilson Center downtown, they are doing a recap of that play. Also playing are "Gem of the Ocean" and "Radio Golf" in a mini-festival with other theater groups. My new lifetime goal is to see all of August Wilson's cycle. Living in Pittsburgh should make that pretty easy.

2 comments:

cberry88 said...

There is hope yet. I graduated from Pine-Richland High School a few years back and I'm happy to tell you that we read several August Wilson plays. We also studied his history and impact on the city.

Fences is still my favorite

carpetbaggery said...

Great post. My new goal in the next year is expose myself to more August Wilson.

Wait, that didn't come out like I meant it.