August Wilson was a playwright known for spearheading the role of African Americans in theatre. Throughout his life, he wrote plays that highlighted the African American experience. He is known for writing plays such as Fences, The Piano Lesson and The Pittsburgh Cycle, the last one being his magnum opus.
In this article, we’ll go through some of the best books written by August Wilson.
The Ground on Which I Stand
Written as a call for African Americans by August Williams to take over their cultural identity, the text highlights why permanent institutions must be established in order to celebrate the achievements of African Americans as well as to preserve them. Wilson wanted African Americans to stamp their authority in performing arts and to make their voices heard in the American culture.
The Ground on which I stand was originally a speech that was delivered in the 11th Theatre Communications Group conference in 1996. The address started a dialogue on the diversity of culture in American theatre.
Conversations with August Wilson
Edited by Jackson R. Bryer and Mary C. Hartig, Conversations with August Wilson is a selected collection of interviews given by Wilson from the year 1984 to 2004. The discussions are an insight into what the plays are and where they came from. Wilson also discusses at length about his beliefs such as the differences between the whites and the African Americans as well as why he wants more theatre companies run by the blacks.
Wilson also lets us know that James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka and Romare Bearden were his influences apart from blues as well as his writing process. All of the interviews are very candid, provocative and expansive.
The Piano Lesson
The Piano Lesson is the fourth play in the renowned The Pittsburgh Cycle. Released in the year 1987, Wilson began writing The Piano Lesson after being inspired by the Romare Bearden’s painting of the same name. The play features a brother and a sister that argue as to what they should with the piano which is a family heirloom of the Charles family.
The brother wants to sell the piano in order to buy land as he is a sharecropper while the sister doesn’t want to sell the piano as she is very attached to it.
The play is a metaphor for the question of how strong is your legacy and is it of any use?
The Piano Lesson was premiered in the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut.