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Fences by August WilsonA Pulitzer Prize winner. Garbage collector Troy Maxson clashes with his son over an athletic scholarship.
Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson"No one except perhaps Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams has aimed so high and achieved so much in the American theater."--John Lahr, The New Yorker "A swelling battle hymn of transporting beauty. Theatergoers who have followed August Wilson's career will find in Gem a touchstone for everything else he has written."--Ben Brantley, The New York Times "Wilson's juiciest material. The play holds the stage and its characters hammer home, strongly, the notion of newfound freedom."--Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune Gem of the Ocean is the play that begins it all. Set in 1904 Pittsburgh, it is chronologically the first work in August Wilson's decade-by-decade cycle dramatizing the African American experience during the 20th century--an unprecedented series that includes the Pulitzer Prize-winning plays Fences and The Piano Lesson. Aunt Esther, the drama's 287-year-old fiery matriarch, welcomes into her Hill District home Solly Two Kings, who was born into slavery and scouted for the Union Army, and Citizen Barlow, a young man from Alabama searching for a new life. Gem of the Ocean recently played across the country and on Broadway, with Phylicia Rashad as Aunt Esther. Earlier in 2005, on the completion of the final work of his ten play cycle-surely the most ambitious American dramatic project undertaken in our history-August Wilson disclosed his bout with cancer, an illness of unusual ferocity that would eventually claim his life on October 2. Fittingly the Broadway theatre where his last play will be produced in 2006 has been renamed the August Wilson Theater in his honor. His legacy will animate the theatre and stir the human heart for decades to come.
Jitney by August WilsonUrban renewal threatens the dingy office of Becker's gypsy cab company, just as his estranged son returns.
Radio Golf by August Wilson"The concluding work in one of the most ambitious dramatic projects ever undertaken . . . a play that could well be Mr. Wilson's most provocative."--Ben Brantley, The New York Times "Radio Golf is a rich, carefully wrought human tapestry that is colorful, playful, thoughtful and compelling."--Ed Kaufman, The Hollywood Reporter Radio Golf is August Wilson's final play. Set in 1990 Pittsburgh, it is the conclusion of his Century Cycle--Wilson's ten-play chronicle of the African American experience throughout the twentieth century--and is the last play he completed before his death. With Radio Golf Wilson's lifework comes full circle as Aunt Ester's onetime home at 1839 Wylie Avenue (the setting of the cycle's first play) is slated for demolition to make way for a slick new real estate venture aimed to boost both the depressed Hill District and Harmond Wilks' chance of becoming the city's first black mayor. A play in which history, memory, and legacy challenge notions of progress and country club ideals, Radio Golf has been produced throughout the country and will come to Broadway this season. August Wilson's plays include Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II, and Radio Golf. They have been produced at theaters across the country, on Broadway, and throughout the world.
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"She Make You Right with Yourself": Aunt Ester, Masculine Loss and Cultural Redemption in August Wilson's Cycle Plays.August Wilson proclaimed the centuries old matriarch, Aunt Ester, his most significant character. Her presence incarnates a key Wilson idea: The need for African Americans to move forward into the future through embracing their past. This movement has been hindered by African Americans embracing European American values, particularly African American men, who have been hopelessly disenfranchised by European American definitions of masculinity that reward assimilation and result in the rejection of the African sensibilities that Wilson saw as essential to African American survival. Wilson's Decalogue documents repeatedly the need for African American men to reconnect with traditional, culturally rooted African sensibilities as they have been preserved by Aunt Ester. Ultimately, Aunt Ester must die to make way for a male redeemer whose presence symbolizes a restoration of this traditional African ethos in African American lives, a presence not yet existent, but one for which a glimmer of hope remains.
August Wilson : Completing the Twentieth-Century CycleJust prior to his death in 2005, August Wilson, arguably the most important American playwright of the last quarter-century, completed an ambitious cycle of ten plays, each set in a different decade of the twentieth century. Known as the Twentieth-Century Cycle or the Pittsburgh Cycle, the plays, which portrayed the struggles of African-Americans, won two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama, a Tony Award for Best Play, and seven New York Drama Critics Circle Awards. August Wilson: Completing the Twentieth-Century Cycle is the first volume devoted to the last five plays of the cycle individually—Jitney,Seven Guitars, King Hedley II, Gem of the Ocean, and Radio Golf—and in the context of Wilson's entire body of work. Editor Alan Nadel's May All Your Fences Have Gates: Essays on the Drama of August Wilson, a work Henry Louis Gates called definitive, focused on the first five plays of Wilson's cycle. This new collection examines from myriad perspectives the way Wilson's final works give shape and focus to his complete dramatic opus. It contains an outstanding and diverse array of discussions from leading Wilson scholars and literary critics. Together, the essays in Nadel's two volumes give Wilson's work the breadth of analysis and understanding that this major figure of American drama merits.
August Wilson: The American Dream, in Black and White (52:11)In this incisive program, two-time Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright August Wilson returns home to the Hill District of Pittsburgh in 1990 to review his life and career. Archival footage and interviews with Wilson, former New York Times theater critic Frank Rich, fellow writers, and others provide insights into the African-American experience, from the Great Black Migration to more recent times. Scenes from Jitney, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Fences, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, and Two Trains Running reveal the impact of oral tradition and the blues on Wilson’s poetic prose, a skillful blend of art and authenticity.
August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand (01:25:10)Explore the life and legacy of August Wilson, the playwright some call America's Shakespeare, who chronicled the 20th-century black experience. Features James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Laurence Fishburne, Viola Davis, new dramatic readings and rare footage.
August Wilson: Writing and the Blues (28:39)Everyone has to find his own song, says Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson, and he found his in the blues. From music and literature he has shaped a philosophy of life and some of the country’s most compelling dramas, including Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Fences. In this program, Wilson talks about finding an African-American cultural identity and what he sees as the false portrayal of black America on television. A Bill Moyers special.
May All Your Fences Have Gates : Essyas on the Drama of August WilsonThis stimulating collection of essays, the first comprehensive critical examination of the work of two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson, deals individually with his five major plays and also addresses issues crucial to Wilson's canon: the role of history, the relationship of African ritual to African American drama, gender relations in the African American community, music and cultural identity, the influence of Romare Bearden's collages, and the politics of drama. The collection includes essays by virtually all the scholars who have currently published on Wilson along with many established and newer scholars of drama and/or African American literature.
The Past as Present in the Drama of August WilsonTheater scholar and critic Harry J. Elam examines Wilson's published plays within the context of contemporary African American literature and in relation to concepts of memory and history, culture and resistance, race and representation. Elam finds that each of Wilson's plays recaptures narratives lost, ignored, or avoided to create a new experience of the past that questions the historical categories of race and the meanings of blackness.
That's Why They Call It the BluesAugust Wilson's 'Seven Guitars' was first performed at the Goodman Theater, Chicago, early 1995. As in his previous works, the blues infuse the play, which is about African-American life after World War II, when the Blacks found out that fighting for US was not enough for them to get accepted as equals in the white society. Through his characters, Wilson presents the facts about African-American way of doing things. The play, on the whole, presents US's history from the Black perspective.
A Transplant That Did Not Take: August Wilson's Views on the Great MigrationA reprint of the article which appeared in the Winter 1997 issue is presented in which the author offers a criticism of several plays by the African American dramatist August Wilson. She discusses Wilson's thoughts on the Great Migration of African Americans to the northern states, the reflection of these thoughts in his plays, and how urban life has impacted the characters.
Walking Around the Fences: Troy Maxson and the Ideology of "Going Down Swinging"A literary criticism is presented to the 20th century American play "Fences," by August Wilson. The play's depiction of the fictional retired Negro League baseball player Troy Maxson, including in regard to the ideology of batting and walks in baseball and his attitude towards the African American Major League baseball player Jackie Robinson and the Canadian Major League Baseball player George “Twinkletoes” Selkirk, is discussed.