Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Biography: August Wilson Born 1945 Died 2005. One of only seven American dramatists to win two Pulitzer Prizes (one for Fences and one for A Piano Lesson)

Similar presentations


Presentation on theme: "Biography: August Wilson Born 1945 Died 2005. One of only seven American dramatists to win two Pulitzer Prizes (one for Fences and one for A Piano Lesson)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Biography: August Wilson Born 1945 Died 2005

2 One of only seven American dramatists to win two Pulitzer Prizes (one for Fences and one for A Piano Lesson) –First African-American to have two plays run simultaneously on Broadway –Major influences on his work: The Harlem Renaissance of the 20s and the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s

3 –Known for his cycle of 10 plays –Each explores a central issue facing African American in a different decade of the 20th century –His exploration of African American history, according to Wilson himself, began in 1965, when listening to Jazz singer Bessie Smith’s “Nobody in Town Can Bake a Sweet Jellyroll Like Mine.” –Wilson became aware that he was representative of a culture and the carrier of some valuable antecedents

4 –Cycle of plays began with Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, set in the 1920s –Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, 1910s –Fences, 1950s –The Piano Lesson, 1930s –Two Trains Running, 1960s –Seven Guitars, 1940s

5 –He was born in Pittsburgh, PA –Son of German American Frederick August Kittel and African American Daisy Wilson –Grew up in a poor, racially mixed section of Pittsburgh called “the Hill” –Fences is set in a fictionalized Pittsburgh

6 –He was actively raised by his African American stepfather, David Belford –Remembers his biological father only as a “sporadic presence” –In the 1950s, the family relocated to a predominantly white suburb, where Wilson for the first time experienced racial prejudice personally –Bricks thrown at house, threatening notes and racial slurs at school, slighting by white class mates –He quits school at 15 and educates himself at the public library

7 –Besides his reading, local oral traditions become influential for his work: “About 21 living in Pittsburgh, it was very difficult... and I wasn’t quite sure I was going to be 22. And I looked up and saw this old man walking down the street and I said I didn’t know how he lived to be I followed him and went into this place called Pat’s place, which was a cigar store. And there these guys would stand around every day and I would stand around in the background and listen to them.... Little did I know that many years later... I would make use of them in my plays.”

8 –His play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom opened on Broadway in 1984 and was a commercial and critical success –Wilson’s ability to produce this play on Broadway was greatly supported by Lloyd Richards, Dean of Yale School of Drama, who supported his work throughout his life

9 –Fences started on Broadway in 1987, starring James Earl Jones as Troy Maxson –The play was a tremendous critical success, winning him the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, four Tony awards (including Best Play), and the Pulitzer Prize for drama –Critics especially praised the way he placed a father-son conflict into the specific social and cultural context of lower- class African-Americans in the 1950s Rust Belt –Also, praise for his ability to create myths; described by Michael Feingold of the Village Voice as “a mythmaker who sees his basically naturalistic panorama plays as sages in an allegorical history of black America.”

10 –Followed by other successful plays such as Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, set in 1910s Pittsburgh –Explores the lives of characters in danger of being cut off from their African and southern roots by their migration to the North –Lauded by Fran Rich of the NYTimes as “spiritual allegory” –Overall: Wilson’s plays help to remedy the underrepresentation of African Americans in American theater –Uses poetic dialogue combined with material from his own past; found a way to incorporate politics and history, as well as aspects of a distinctive African American culture –But his plays also appeal to a mass audience


Download ppt "Biography: August Wilson Born 1945 Died 2005. One of only seven American dramatists to win two Pulitzer Prizes (one for Fences and one for A Piano Lesson)"

Similar presentations


Ads by Google