Unformatted text preview: August Wilson
Kevin O’Brien Wednesday, February 16, 2011 • Born April 27, 1945 as Frederick
August Kittel to Daisy Wilson and
Frederick Kittel. Was the fourth
child of seven.
• His father was not there for most
of his life.
• He later adopted his mother’s
• Spent his childhood in the Hill
District of Pittsburgh, a lively but
• Became the base setting for many
of his plays.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 Childhood Education
• He was the only black student in his class
in Central Catholic High school where he
received daily threats and abuse which
drove him out.
• He then went to Connelley Vocational high
School which he did not ﬁnd challenging.
• In 1960 he dropped out of Gladstone High
School in the 10th grade because a teacher
accused him of plagiarizing a 20 page
paper on Napoleon. Wednesday, February 16, 2011 1960s
• In 1962-63 Wilson enlists in the U.S. Army for
three years but only stays for one. He then
went to hold a various amount of jobs.
• In 1965 Discovers the blues. One in
particular Bessie Smith’s “Nobody Can Bake a
Sweet Jelly Roll Like Mine”.
• Frederick Kittel passes away.
• He buys his ﬁrst typewriter to write poetry
• In 1968 he co-founds Black Horizon Theater
in Pittsburgh with Rob Penny and Sala Udin,
along with others. His ﬁrst play Recycling was
played at small theaters and public housing. Wednesday, February 16, 2011 1970s
• Wilson continues to be active in Black Arts
movement. In 1971 and 1972 he had his
poetry published in journals Black Word
and Black Lines
• In 1976 his play The Homecoming was
directed by Vernell Lillie at the Kuntu
Repertory Theater. Wilson also sees his
ﬁrst professional play. Athol Fugard’s
“Sizwe Bansi is Dead”
• In 1978 he moves to Saint Paul Minnesota
at the suggestion of a friend, Claude Wednesday, February 16, 2011 1980s
• In 1980s he received a fellowship for The Playwrights
Center in Minneapolis.
• 1982 he wrote his the play “Jitney” which focused on
cab drivers in the 1970s.
• In 1984 his ﬁrst major play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
opened on Broadway and was a critical and ﬁnancial
• 1987 “Fences” opened on Broadway. The play was
about the conﬂict between father and son. It wins
NYDCC award and Wilson’s ﬁrst Pulitzer Prize. The play
grosses 11 million in its ﬁrst year, a Broadway record
for a non-musical.
• 1988 the play “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” appears
on Broadway. The story was about the lives of residents Wednesday, February 16, 2011 1990s
• In 1990 “Piano Lesson” opens on Broadway, which
won another NYDCC Award and his second
Pulitzer Prize. Which is set in the 1930s that
followed a family’s conﬂiction on selling an
• 1992 “Two Trains Running” opened on Broadway
which wins his fourth NYDCC Award for best
American play. The play is based around a
coeehouse in the 1960s.
• 1996 “Seven Guitars” goes on Broadway, which
wins his NYDCC Award.
• 1998 Wilson teaches playwriting at Dartmouth
College in New Hampshire. Also awarded the
Edward Albee Theater Conference in Valdez,
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 2000s
• Jitney arrives in New York o Broadway. This wins
his seventh NYDCC Award.
• 2001 “King Hedley II” hits Broadway, ﬁrst play not
to receive NYDCC Award. Follows an ex con trying
to rebuild his life in the 1980s.
• 2002 “Jitney” wins London’s Oliver Award for
year’s best play.
• 2004 “Gem of the Ocean” opens on Broadway. A
play about Aunt Ester who is a 287 year old
spiritual healer who is mentioned in other plays.
This takes place in 1904.
• In 2005 “Radio Golf” premieres at Yale Rep in
March. Wilson was diagnosed with deadly liver Wednesday, February 16, 2011 The Pittsburgh Cycle
• 1900s - Gem of the Ocean (2003)
• 1910s - Joe Turner's Come and Gone (1988)
• 1920s - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (1984) set in Chicago
• 1930s - The Piano Lesson (1990) - Pulitzer
• 1940s - Seven Guitars (1995)
• 1950s - Fences (1987) - Pulitzer Prize
• 1960s - Two Trains Running (1991)
• 1970s - Jitney (1982)
• 1980s - King Hedley II (1999)
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 Bibliography
• "August Wilson." 2011. Biography.com. 13
Feb 2011, 12:57 http://www.biography.com/
• Rawston, Christopher. "August Wilson: A
Timeline, 1945-2005." Post-gazette.
Pittsburgh Post-gazette, 3 Oct. 2005. Web. 13
Feb. 2011. <http://www.post-gazette.com/
• "August Wilson." Wikipedia, the Free
Encyclopedia. Web. 13 Feb. 2011. <http://
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_Wilson>. Wednesday, February 16, 2011 ...
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