August Wilson

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Language Arts

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August Wilson

Recycle, 1973 (produced in Pittsburgh, PA)Fullerton Street, 1980Black Bart and the Sacred Hills, 1977 (produced St. Paul, 1981)Jitney (1982)Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (1984)The Homecoming, 1989Fences (1987) - Pulitzer Prize[6]Joe Turner's Come and Gone (1984)The Coldest Day of the Year, 1989The Piano Lesson (1990) - Pulitzer Prize[6]Two Trains Running (1991)Seven Guitars (1995)King Hedley II (1999)How I Learned What I Learned (2002–03, Seattle)Gem of the Ocean (2003)Radio Golf (2005)


Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright August Wilson (Frederick August Kittell; born 1945) embarked upon a mission to write a cycle of ten plays addressing central issues that have impacted African Americans in each decade of the 20th century. The first five evolve from the playwright's own commentary upon illconceived, ill-advised, yet sometimes unavoidable choices made by past generations of African Americans and their too frequent negative consequences.Christened Frederick August Kittell was born in 1945 and later changed his name to August Wilson. He was the namesake of an irresponsible German baker. His father spent little time with his family in their two-room apartment in Pittsburgh's Hill District where Wilson, his mother, and five brothers and sisters survived on public assistance and earnings from her janitorial job. Wilson's move to adopt the maiden name of his African American mother, Daisy Wilson, in the 1970s was not just a means of disavowing his estranged white father. His decision to call himself August Wilson also represented a significant rite of passage marking both his discovery and celebration of ties with Africa. His identification with his mother's roots later became the driving force behind young Wilson's fascination with the language and culture of African Americans.Against the pleas of his mother, Wilson gave up on formal education in the ninth grade. Memories of former years spent in the Pittsburgh public school system included a devastating accusation by one of his teachers that he was not the original author of a term paper that he had, in fact, written on Napoleon Bonaparte. Offended by the affront to his integrity and bored with the stifling regimentation of Pittsburgh's schools, Wilson turned to the city's tobacco shops, barber shops, and street corners for schooling of a different sort. While mingling among fellow African American residents of the working-class neighborhood where he grew up listening to their uncensored language, Wilson developed an intimate knowledge of their lifestyles. His time spent in this environment would later serve him well in creating credible characters for his cycle of plays depicting the African American experience.

1985: New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play – Ma Rainey's Black Bottom1986: Whiting Writers' Award - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom1986: American Theatre Critics' Association Award - Fences1987: Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play – Fences1987: New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play – Fences1987: Pulitzer Prize for Drama – Fences1987: Tony Award for Best Play – Fences1987: Outer Critics Circle Award - Fences1987: Artist of the Year by Chicago Tribune1988: Literary Lion Award from the New York Public Library1988: New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play – Joe Turner's Come and Gone1990: Governor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts and Distinguished Pennsylvania Artists1990: Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play – The Piano Lesson1990: New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play – The Piano Lesson1990: Pulitzer Prize for Drama – The Piano Lesson1991: Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame award1992: American Theatre Critics' Association Award – Two Trains Running1992: New York Drama Critics Circle Citation for Best American Play – Two Trains Running1992: Clarence Muse Award1996: New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play – Seven Guitars1999: National Humanities Medal2000: New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play – Jitney2000: Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Play – Jitney2002: Olivier Award for Best new Play – Jitney2004: The 10th Annual Heinz Award in Arts and Humanities[13]2004: The U.S. Comedy Arts Festival Freedom of Speech Award2005: Make Shift Award at the U.S. Confederation of Play Writers

August Wilson



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