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Transcript of August Wilson
Son of Daisy Wilson, an African American women, and Frederick August Kittle, a white German immigrant.
Forth child of six
Grew up on "The Hill", a racially mixed poor area of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, in a small two room apartment.
His father was a baker who very seldom was around the house.
His mother was a cleaning lady who raised Wilson and worked hard to put food on the table for August and siblings.
Parents divorced and his mother subsequently got remarried to David Bedford, an ex-convict African American man, when Wilson was 15 years old. David was the later inspiration for Troy in Wilson’s play "Fences". Both of which were ridiculed for their race in professional sports.
Daisy, David and their children all moved to Hazleton, a predominantly white area of Pittsburgh where they endured many racial taunts. “It ain't nothing to find no starting place in the world. You just start from where you find yourself.”
- August Wilson
Wilson was reading by the age of 4
Was a regular at the public library by the age of 12
Although eager with words Wilson was an unexceptional student and went through many different schools.
When living in Hazleton he attended a mostly white parochial high school. Finally becoming sick of racism, Wilson dropped out of school at the age of 15 when his 9th grade teacher accused him of plagerizing a well-written term paper that he had done on Napolean.
After quiting school Wilson began working varies odd jobs.
Wilson began to self educate by making regular trips to the library. He read works by varies black authors such as Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps,
By late teens he decided that he wanted to dedicate himself to becoming a writer. His mother however, wanted him to pursue a career in law. Frusterated with August's lack of direction his mother finally kicked him out of the house.
Unable to find satisfactory employment, Wilson joined the army in 1963. Was discharged only one year later.
Moved into a boarding house at age 20
Would sit in public places and would eve's drop on surrounding conversation to gain inspiration for stories. On April 1, 1965 Wilson bought his first typewriter out of determination of becoming a writer. Continued working odd jobs to support his writing carrier.
That same year he helped form the Center Avenue Poets Theatre Workshop and heard Bessie Smith's records for the first time. Bessie's music had a profound effect upon his determination to capture black cultural and historical experience in his writing. Wilson even wrote a poem called “Bessie” which was one of his first publications that eventually appeared in Black Lines in the summer of 1971.
Throughout the 1960's, Wilson continued writing as well as be active in the community of African American writers, helping found the Black Horizons Theatre Company on the Hill. Wilson was active in the Black Power movement and began to publish his work. His first publication was the poem "For Malcom X and Others" which appeared in Negro Digest in September 1969.
Got married to Brenda Burton, a muslim women, in 1969 who later gave birth to there daughter Sakina Ansari in 1970.
After the dissolution of his marriage in 1972 Wilson became even more devoted to his career as a writer. He had publisized several poems such as "Morning Statement" and "Theme One: The Variations" which appeared in the anthology "The Poetry of Black America". He had also began wrting plays during this time.
In 1977, Wilson wrote his play "Black Bart and the Sacred Hills" which was produced in St. Paul Minnesota in 1981. Many critics considered this to be Wilson's serious theatrical debut. The start to his career In 1978, Wilson moved to St. Paul to write plays for Claude Purdy and to work as a scriptwriter for the Science Museum of Minnesota.
In 1980, Wilson received a Jerome fellowship, became associate playwright with Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis, and wrote his play "Fullerton Street".
In 1981, Wilson married Judy Oliver, a white social worker.
Wrote Ma Rainey's Black Bottom in 1982, which was accepted for workshop production at the O'Neill. When this play opened on Broadway at the Cort Theatre in 1984, it brought Wilson critical acclaim and launched his theatrical career. Set in 1920s Chicago, the play looks at the economic exploitation of black musicians by white record companies and at how victims of racism are forced to direct their anger at one another instead of at their oppressors. The play won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award (1985) and was nominated for a Tony.
Wilson joined New Dramatists in New York in 1983 and his play "Fences" was produced at the O'Neil. However, Wilson's mother died in March and therefore was not able to witness her son's Broadway success. Fences was produced at the Yale Repertory Theatre in 1986, and following its opening at the 46th Street Theatre in New York in 1987 the play won various awards including a Tony. The Chicago Tribune also selected Wilson as Artist of the Year.
The play "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" written in 1984 and work shopped at the O'Neill that same year, was produced at Yale in 1986 and later opened at the Ethel Barrymore. The play focuses on the personal and cultural struggles that have arisen from slavery and the black northern migration as they manifest in a Pittsburgh boarding house in 1911. This has been considered one of Wilson's most Afrocentric plays and most successful literary efforts. This same year the New York Public Library added Wilson to its list of Literary Lions.
Written in 1986, "The Piano Lesson" was Wilson's fourth play to be produced on Broadway and his second to win a Pulitzer. Set in 1936, the play focuses on the question of who has the right to own a family's heirloom piano while capturing conflict that arises between African American and mainstream cultural values.
Wilson moves to Seattle.
Gets divorced from Judy Oliver in 1990.
Wilson is elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1991.
His play "Two Trains Running", written in 1989, was produced by the Yale Repertory in 1990, and opened at the Walter Kerr on Broadway in 1992. Wilson sets the play in his home town "The Hill". Here, regulars of a coffee shop discuss their plight in 1960's America. The play stresses the necessity of coming to terms with the past before attempting to move forward.
Got married to Constanza Romero, a costume designer, in 1994.
Latest play in the twentieth century cycle is Seven Guitars, which was produced in 1996.
In March 2004, Wilson received the Freedom of Speech Award at the 10th Annual U.S. Comedy Arts Festival.
On August 9, 2004, Wilson's play Gem of the Ocean, which premiered in Chicago in 2003, opened on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theater on November 11, 2004.
Dies from liver cancer on October 2, 2005. Later Career Early Years August Wilson in an extended interview with Bill Moyers in 1988 discussing cultural differences. A clip from August Wilson's play Fences Citations FencesBroadway. "FENCES Clip: HOW COME YOU AIN'T NEVER LIKED ME?"YouTube. YouTube,
03 May 2010. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBTXS42dj40>.
Loumademe. "August Wilson Interview." YouTube. YouTube, 17 Nov. 2010. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loMoBHNGbrE>.
MrBurley46. "August Wilson - 'Poem for My Grandfather'" YouTube. YouTube, 16 Jan. 2010. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkkBY2BSBno>.
"AugustÂ Wilson." About.com Pittsburgh. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. <http://pittsburgh.about.com/od/famous_locals/p/august_wilson.htm>.
Answers.com. Answers. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. <http://www.answers.com/topic/august-wilson>.
"August Wilson." Gale. Cengage Learning, Inc. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. <http://www.gale.cengage.com/free_resources/bhm/bio/wilson_a.htm>.
"AUGUST WILSON." August Wilson, Pulitzer Winning Playwright: Honours & Awards. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. <http://www.august-wilson-theatre.com/awards.php>.
Times, Sara Krulwich/The New York. "August Wilson Dies at 60." The New York Times. The New York Times, 02 Oct. 2005. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2005/10/02/obituaries/03wilson03ready.html>.
"AUGUST WILSON." August Wilson, Pulitzer Winning Playwright: Honours & Awards. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.august-wilson-theatre.com/awards.php>. Achievments A Young Writer Wilson used his profound skills as a writer to help enlighten the general public about black life in America. To do so, he wrote a series of poems as well as ten plays which covered the status of African American's in each decade of the century. He does not use his plays to attract propaganda but instead uses them as a way to force the audience to search for their own political conclusions in an attempt to extend the life situations of his characters. His use of spoken dialogue combined with his poetic talent are the gateways through witch he gives the audience a chance to see the life of African Americans during any given decade in the lastest century. Public Influence List of Plays
Recycle – 1973
Black Bart and the Sacred Hills – 1977
Fullerton Street – 1980
Jitney – 1982 (takes place in 1977)
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – 1984 (takes place in 1927)
Fences – 1987 (takes place in 1957-58)
Joe Turner’s Come and Gone – 1988 (takes place in 1911)
The Homecoming – 1989
The Coldest Day of the Year – 1989
The Piano Lesson – 1990 (takes place in 1936)
Two Trains Running – 1991(takes place in 1969)
Seven Guitars – 1995 (takes place in 1948)
King Hedley II – 1999 (takes place in 1985)
Gem of the Ocean – 2003 (takes place in 1904)
How I Learned What I Learned – 2003
Radio Golf – 2005 (takes place in 1997 August Wilson reciting his poem "Poem For My Grandfather". 1985
New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom)
Whiting Writers' Award (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom)
American Theatre Critics' Association Award (Fences)
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play (Fences)
New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play (Fences)
Pulitzer Prize for Drama (Fences)
Tony Award for Best Play (Fences)
Outer Critics Circle Award (Fences)
Literary Lion Award from the New York Public Library
New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play (Joe Turner's Come and Gone)
Governor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts and Distinguished Pennsylvania Artists
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play (The Piano Lesson)
New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play (The Piano Lesson)
Pulitzer Prize for Drama (The Piano Lesson)
Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame award
American Theatre Critics' Association Award (Two Trains Running)
New York Drama Critics Circle Citation for Best American Play (Two Trains Running)
Clarence Muse Award
Peabody Award (The Piano Lesson)
New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play (Seven Guitars)
National Humanities Medal
New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play (Jitney)
Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Play (Jitney)
Olivier Award for Best new Play (Jitney)
The 10th Annual Heinz Award in Arts and Humanities
The U.S. Comedy Arts Festival Freedom of Speech Award
Make Shift Award at the U.S. Confederation of Play Writers
Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Revival (Two Trains Running)
New York Drama Circle Critics Award for Best Play (Radio Golf)
Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play (Fences)