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August Wilson

August Wilson was an American playwright and writer, best known for his series of ten plays called “The Pittsburgh Cycle,” which explores the lives of African Americans in different decades of the 20th century. Born on April 27, 1945, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Wilson grew up in poverty and dropped out of school in the ninth grade. However, he was an avid reader and a self-taught writer who was deeply influenced by the Black Power movement and the Civil Rights Movement.

Wilson began writing plays in the late 1960s, and his first full-length play, “Black Bart and the Sacred Hills,” was produced in 1981. He went on to write many acclaimed plays, including “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “Fences,” “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” “The Piano Lesson,” and “Two Trains Running,” among others.

Colin McFarlane (left) and Lenny Henry in a Theatre Royal Bath production of the August Wilson play Fences.

Wilson’s plays are known for their richly drawn characters, powerful dialogue, and exploration of African American history, culture, and identity. He was committed to representing the black experience on stage and was critical of the lack of representation of African Americans in mainstream theater. In 1990, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “The Piano Lesson,” and he received numerous other awards and honors throughout his career.

Sadly, Wilson passed away on October 2, 2005, at the age of 60, due to liver cancer. However, his plays continue to be performed and celebrated today, and his legacy as one of America’s greatest playwrights and cultural figures endures.

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