August Wilson the Playwright

Published: 2023-01-03
August Wilson the Playwright
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Entertainment Art Behavior
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1691 words
15 min read

August Wilson is among the famous American artists. He is an African-American writer who has received various Awards in theatre. The series of plays written by August Wilson formed Pittsburgh Cycle. Wilson won Pulitzer Prize in 1985 for his excellence in the Fences. Augusts Wilson was born in 1945 in a place called Pittsburgh as a fourth child in a family of seven Children. He was raised in an urban center around Bedford Avenue in the city. His family moved out of the town after his mother's re-marriage. Wilson started schooling while in the new home (Elkins 38). Hardship forced him to drop out of school at the age of sixteen. After dropping out of school, he started to work to obtain some money. The money received from casual work boosted him in his artistic talent. The love for written words enabled him to look for close relations with the Carnegie library. In his multiple trips to the library, Wilson identified his potential in play writings.

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He read a lot of books written by greatest writers like Ralph Ellison and Langston; therefore, improving his writing skills and knowledge. Wilson's passion was different from what her mother wanted him to pursue his academic life. The mother forced Wilson to study law; therefore, making him move out of the family to start his life. The death of his father in 1965 made him change his name to Augusts Wilson as a sign of honour to his mother. In 1969, Wilson changed his religion from Christianity to Islamic to keep his marriage with Brenda Burton. In 1970, Wilson visited the Black Horizon Theater. It was in this first visits that his play, Recycling, and Jitney was performed.

Wilson divorced with his wife in 1972 after staying in the marriage for three years. In 1976, his play, Sizwe Banzi is dead was performed in Pittsburgh Public Theater. Wilson then moved from Pittsburgh to St Paul in Minnesota. In Minnesota, he worked as an educational scriptwriter for a science museum. His excellent work in script writing enabled earned him a fellowship as a sign of honor from the museum management board. He later moved from the museum to work a chef for the poor. During his work as a chef, he also continued to write plays (Gale 60). During his stay in Minnesota, Wilson developed a reliable and permanent bond with Penumbra Theatre Company. The Penumbra organization produced most of Wilson's plays.

The Ten cycles of August Wilson and the Inspirations

The cycles refer to the series of plays written by Wilson in his theatre work. The period improved the writings skills of August Wilson as a playwright in America. Wilson's artistic cycle was also known as the 'Century Cycle.' The series of plays written by August Wilson enabled him to receive the numerous Awards from various Companies and public Theaters. Wilson began his work as a simple and humble boy; therefore, making him hailed by many people in America and other parts of the world. The hardship he went through became an inspiration to other people in all parts of the world. Wilson's work inspired people to work hard despite the challenges that may arise from in the process (Weber 204). He started his playwriting after his mother had forced him to pursue law. The act of moving out of the family to begin his life is a sign of perseverance and determination; therefore, his legacy action and decisions inspired other young men to work hard despite the rejection from parents and guardians.

The series of plays written by August Wilson changed the social nature of black people in America; therefore, shaping the historical landscape of the country. Social justice determined the wellbeing of black people. Most of the narratives performed in the theater used a different character whose protagonists emphasized the equality of all people in the country. The stories presented by the Playwright accentuates changes in neighborhood of the people. The social setting observed in the stories pinpoints the early settlement of the black populations in the urban places neighboring the Whites. August Wilson wrote the plays without much consideration on the next narratives because the information came automatically into his mind. Wilson's works inspired a lot of people both nationally and internationally (Shannon 120). The concerns of the narratives are drawn towards acquiring better homes, good paying jobs, and reconciliation. The changes the social components improve the lifestyles of all citizens in America. The protagonists in the plays faced a lot of challenges in an attempt of bringing equality of all people in the country and eradicate the exploitation of the black Americans.

The Gem of the Ocean

This play focuses on the lifestyles and humiliation experienced by the Black Americans in the 19th Century. The characters included Citizen Barlow, Aunt Ester, Black Mary, and Eli. The Gem of the Ocean consists of two Acts. Each act in the play contains five different scenes. In his writings, Wilson created an imagination on people's minds after mentioning the frustration, humiliations, and anger for being a black person in America. This play is dramatic; therefore, making it interesting for the audience. Thematic concepts portrayed in the game include possession of supernatural powers, whereby Aunt Ester was believed to have lived for more than 280 years (Gale 62). The long life lived by Aunt Ester made her gain healings powers. Aunt Ester helped a young man to get out of captivity. The man under slavery is symbolic to the African American and the humiliations they receive from the Whites.

Joe Turner's Come and Gone

In his playwriting, Wilson used Joe Turner as a representative of the White people who enslaved the Black American. Joe Turner forced people to work in his plantations. The play focuses a bit on the historical events that took place in America. The historical context presented provides an overview of the factors that resulted in the migration of Africans to America and subsequent slavery (Nadel 251). Racism and the belief of superiority by the White people contributed to the Mistreatment of the Africans in America.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Ma Rainey was a famous lead singer in America. He was one of the founder members of the Blue Musicians band. The tone used in writing this play portrayed bitterness and laughter as the breaking point of the challenges faced by the black people in the land of the Whites. The writing by Wilson represented the experiences of the Black Americans in the 1920s.

The Piano Lesson

In the performance of this play, a piano was handed over through various generations. The handing over of piano resulted in a conflict in Charles's family. The thematic concept focuses on linking the objects with the past; therefore, identifying the significance of musical instruments in arts. After the performance of this play, August Wilson received a second Pulitzer Prize.

The seven Guitars

The theme used in this case also focuses on music as one of the disciplines in arts and theater. The drama starts with the death of a famous guitar player called Floyd Barton. The death of the guitarists occurred in 1948. A flashback is made to enable the audience to identify the qualities possessed by the protagonists in the past (Gale 59). The contributions and achievements made by guitarist Barton in the music industry inspired people to focus on their behaviors because they influence one's performance and successes in life.

The Fences

The narrative concentrates on social justice for the Black people in America. The protagonist, Troy Maxson represents the people who were struggling for social justice due to the mistreatment they encountered from the superior Whites. Troy Maxson was among the most influential activists in America (Shannon 134). The protagonists were a trash collector despite the fame he had from being the best baseball player in the country. The character traits presented by Troy inspires people to become humble and collaborate with other people in society for a mutual benefit.

The Jitney

This narrative describes the character traits of some co-workers who were gossiping and arguing during their daily operation. Conflict and misunderstanding are the main themes portrayed in this play. August Wilson used the narrative to describe the disputes and conflicts that existed between the Blacks and the Whites in America. Social classes existed in the country as a result of racism and the belief that the White people are superior over Black Americans.

King Hedley II

This play becomes the most touching and play written by August Wilson. The performance and the scenes of the narrative were tragic as compared to other writings of the cycle. The main focus is drawn to the downfall of King Hedley II after his prideful moments of the ruling. Wilson links the character traits of the King to that of the guitarist in the Seven Guitars play (Nadel 248). The comparison of the behaviors was basically because King Hedley II was a son to the guitar player. During this period, Wilson's favorite place, The Hill district was greatly affected by poverty; therefore, changing both the economic and social status of the people in the entire region. The inspiration portrayed in this play encourages people to emulate valuable and positive traits from their parents.

The Radio Golf

The narrative was the last play written by Wilson in the 20th century. The description was set in the 1990s. Emphasis focused on a story about Harmond Wilks. The protagonists in the play was a famous and successful political leader. Wilks also worked as a developer in the real-estate sector. The first play of the Gem of the Ocean interrelates to this last final play; therefore, interconnecting all the narratives written by August Wilson. The successful politician, Wilks commanded for the destruction of old houses that belonged to Aunt Ester. The interconnection of all the plays performed in the theater led to the term "Cycle of the Plays."

Works Cited

Elkins, Marilyn. "August Wilson": A Casebook. Routledge, 2013: 33-45

Gale, Cengage Learning. "A Study Guide for August Wilson's": The Piano Lesson. Gale, Cengage Learning, 2015: 56-84.

Nadel, Alan, ed. August Wilson: Completing the Twentieth-Century Cycle. University of Iowa Press, 2010: 234-252.

Shannon, Sandra G., ed. "August Wilson's Pittsburgh Cycle": Critical Perspectives on the Plays. McFarland, 2015:108-167.

Weber, Myles. "Rescuing the Tragic Bully in August Wilson's Fences." Southern Review 50.4, 2014: 648-674.

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