American playwright (1945-2005)
August Wilson (April 27, 1945–October 2, 2005) was an American playwright.
- I think it was the ability of the theater to communicate ideas and extol virtues that drew me to it. And also I was, and remain, fascinated by the idea of an audience as a community of people who gather willingly to bear witness. A novelist writes a novel and people read it. But reading is a solitary act. While it may elicit a varied and personal response, the communal nature of the audience is like having five hundred people read your novel and respond to it at the same time. I find that thrilling.
- On what attracted him to theater in “August Wilson, The Art of Theater No. 14” in The Paris Review (Winter 1999)
- Jazz in itself is not struggling…That is, the music itself is not struggling. It and the baseball history you talk about are two anchors of the African American cultural community. It’s the attitude that’s in trouble. My plays insist that we should not forget or toss away our history.
- On not tossing certain facets of African American culture as relics in “AN INTERVIEW WITH AMERICAN PLAYWRIGHT AUGUST WILSON” (John C. Tibbetts, 2002)
- The real struggle has been since Africans first set foot on the continent, an affirmation of the value of one’s self. And I think if, in order to participate in American society, in order to accomplish some of the things which the black middle class has accomplished, if you have had to give up that self in order to accomplish that, then you are not making an affirmation of the value of the African being. You are saying that in order to do that I must become someone else, I must become like someone else…
- On the cultural sacrifices made by African Americans in higher classes in “Playwright August Wilson on Writing About Black America” (Bill Moyers, 1988)
- You gotta write women like… they can’t express ideas and attitudes that women of the feminist movement in the sixties made. Even though I’m aware of all that, you gotta be very careful if you’re trying to create a character like that, that they don’t come up with any greater understanding of themselves and their relationship to the world than women had at that time. As a matter of fact, all my characters are at the edge of that, they pushing them boundaries, they have more understanding. I had to cut back and say, “These are feminist ideas.” My mother was a feminist, though she wouldn’t express it that way. She don’t know nothing about no feminist woman and whatnot but she didn’t accept her place. She raised three daughters, and my sisters are the same way. So that’s where I get my women from. I grew up in a household with four women…
- On how he writes female characters in “An Interview with August Wilson in The Believer magazine (November 1, 2004)