August Wilson

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August Wilson is well known for his 20th century cycle of works about the black experience in America. But now an additional play written shortly before Wilson’s death is debuting in Pittsburgh. Actor Eugene Lee and Director Todd Kreidler, Wilson’s friend and protégé, explain what “How I Learned What I Learned” reveals about the playwright’s life as a poet in the Hill District.

"His quality of mind is actually something that comes out in the show, and that's something Eugene really brings out. The way he can twist and turn. I always say that August was a blues man with a jazz mind." - Director Todd Kreidler

Also in this show, a look at how the USDA is taking a new approach to fighting hunger, and CMU students prepare to launch a Xombie into space.

August Wilson Documentary Debuts

Feb 18, 2015
The Huntington / Flickr

 

We talked with the producers of a new documentary nearly ten years in the making; "August Wilson: The Ground On Which I Stand" which focuses on the Pittsburgh born playwright and his ten plays over twenty years covering a one-century cycle of American history.

Our guests are Executive Producer Darryl Ford Williams and Deesha Philyaw, manager of the August Wilson Education Project.

Scaffolding covers much of the three-story brick house on Bedford Avenue in the Hill District.  Three men – an apprentice carpenter and two bricklayer apprentices – work on restoring the crumbling front façade, the roofing and the brickwork. 

But this isn’t your average restoration – the navy blue sign standing in front of the house reveals that it is the childhood home of famous Pittsburgh-born playwright August Wilson – and all three of the men working on it have either spent time on the streets or in jail.

In 2009, a gleaming performing arts space opened to great fanfare in downtown Pittsburgh.

Named after renowned playwright and native son August Wilson, it was meant to be a hub for African-American theater, art and education.

Today, the August Wilson Center is for sale, unable to pay its bills. But many wonder why it was allowed to get to this point.

August Wilson grew up in Pittsburgh’s Hill District in the 1940s and '50s. He met Sala Udin in parochial school.

An Uncertain Future for the August Wilson Center

Oct 4, 2013
AWC / Facebook

When it comes to the August Wilson Center's current financial situation, cost and constructions fees caused “substantial debt” from the beginning, says Mark Clayton Southers, a playwright and former producer at the center.

Charlie Humphrey, CEO and Executive Director of Pittsburgh Filmmakers, says a problem the August Wilson Center faces now is that “nobody wants to fund debt” people want “to fund programs.”

Southers agrees that it's hard to fund a sinking ship and adds that some creative solutions are needed to gather enough funds to clear $7 million in debt.

When the stage lights go up at Chicago's Goodman Theatre on Monday evening, more than 20 high school students will each have a moment to step into the spotlight and perform a monologue from one of the plays written by the late August Wilson. Chicago's contest is one of several regional finals that strives to introduce students to the Pulitzer Prize winner's work. It's also a lead-up to the national August Wilson Monologue Competition that will be held on Broadway later this spring.