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August Wilson

August Wilson

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Also Known As: Frederick August Kittel Jr. Died: October 2, 2005
Born: April 27, 1945 Cause of Death: liver cancer
Birth Place: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA Profession: playwright, poet, stock clerk, cook, newspaper delivery boy

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Celebrated for his penetrating studies of class, race, and family dynamics, acclaimed playwright August Wilson was born in Pittsburgh in 1945. An avid reader by the age of four, Wilson found school boring and unchallenging. When a teacher accused him of plagiarizing a report on Napoleon I of France in the tenth grade, Wilson dropped out in frustration and began self-educating through extensive reading at the Carnegie Library-so successfully that the institution later issued him an honorary diploma. Wilson soon began following the impulse to write, mainly relying on a cheap typewriter which he frequently pawned in times of particular hardship. He was known to scribble down notes on napkins and scraps of paper while at restaurants and bars, capturing memorable moments of interaction between people, which he would later incorporate into his plays. He debuted his first play, "Recycling," at the Black Horizons Theater in Pittsburgh in 1973. He would spend the next decade following odd jobs and fellowships to a number of cities, publishing the acclaimed "Jitney" in 1982. By 1984, Wilson had fully blossomed as a playwright, with his celebrated "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" opening on Broadway. It was followed...

Celebrated for his penetrating studies of class, race, and family dynamics, acclaimed playwright August Wilson was born in Pittsburgh in 1945. An avid reader by the age of four, Wilson found school boring and unchallenging. When a teacher accused him of plagiarizing a report on Napoleon I of France in the tenth grade, Wilson dropped out in frustration and began self-educating through extensive reading at the Carnegie Library-so successfully that the institution later issued him an honorary diploma. Wilson soon began following the impulse to write, mainly relying on a cheap typewriter which he frequently pawned in times of particular hardship. He was known to scribble down notes on napkins and scraps of paper while at restaurants and bars, capturing memorable moments of interaction between people, which he would later incorporate into his plays. He debuted his first play, "Recycling," at the Black Horizons Theater in Pittsburgh in 1973. He would spend the next decade following odd jobs and fellowships to a number of cities, publishing the acclaimed "Jitney" in 1982. By 1984, Wilson had fully blossomed as a playwright, with his celebrated "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" opening on Broadway. It was followed by plays like "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," "Fences," and "The Piano Lesson," eventually cultivating a collection of ten loosely interconnected, highly acclaimed plays that Wilson dubbed "The Pittsburgh Cycle," many of which dealt with similar themes and some shared characters. Over the course of his career, he would win a Tony Award, two Pulitzers, a Drama Desk Award, and a number of other accolades including a National Humanities Medal and a place in the American Theatre Hall of Fame. Wilson published his final play, "Radio Golf," in 2005. Sadly, he died that same year. He was 60 years old.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Naked Proof, The (2004) Narrator
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Milestones close milestones

:
After return visit to hometown of Pittsburgh; wrote first play "Jitney" in 1979; produced at Allegheny Repertory Theater in 1982
:
Dropped out of school at age 15
1986:
"Joe Turner's Come and Gone" first produced at Yale Repertory Theater
1987:
"The Piano Lesson" premiered at Yale Repertory Theater
1965:
Bought first typewriter and began writing
1988:
Earned Tony nomination for Best Play for "Joe Turner's Come and Gone"
2000:
New play "King Hedley II" at Pittsbugh Public Theater
1996:
Received Tony nod for Best Play for "Seven Guitars"
1987:
"Fences" opened on Broadway; earned Pulitzer and Tony Award as Best Play
:
Began publishing poetry in the early 1970s
:
Hired to write sketches at the St Paul Museum of Science
1978:
Moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota
2004:
Wrote the play "Gem of the Ocean"; earned a Tony nomination for Best Play
2000:
"Jitney" produced to great success Off-Broadway
1984:
"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" produced at Yale Rep; transferred to Broadway; initial collaboration with director Lloyd Richards; nominated for a Tony Award as Best Play
1995:
Adapted "The Piano Lesson" for television; aired on CBS; also served as a producer; received Emmy nominations for Outstanding Made for Television Movie and for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing a Miniseries or a Special
1968:
Co-founded Black Horizons Theatre Company
1990:
Continued association with Yale Rep with debut of "Two Trains Running"
1981:
Finished "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"; accepted at the Eugene O'Neill Center
1992:
Garnered yet another Tony nomination for Best Play for "Two Trains Running"
2005:
Penned the play, "Radio Golf" which premiered at the Yale Repertory Theatre in 2005 (opened on Broadway in 2007, after his death); earned a Tony nomination for Best Play
1990:
Picked up second Pulitzer Prize for "The Piano Lesson"; also received Tony nomination for Best Play
1983:
"Fences" accepted at O'Neill Center
1995:
"Seven Guitars" premiered in Chicago
1963:
Enlisted in the US Army; discharged in 1964
1996:
Premiered rewritten version of "Jitney" at Pittsburgh Public Theater
:
Raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1973:
Presented one of his first plays, "Recycling."
1980:
Received a fellowship for The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis.
1985:
Published the play "Fences," which won the Pulitzer, Tony Award, and Outer Critics Circle Award.
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Education

Connelley Vocational High School: -
Gladstone High School: -
Central Catholic High School: - 1959

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Brenda Burton. Married in 1969; divorced in 1972.
wife:
Judy Oliver. Married in 1981; divorced in 1990.
wife:
Constanza Romero. Costume designer. Met when she designed clothing for the 1990 production of "The Piano Lesson"; married in 1994.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Frederick August Kittel. Baker. Born in Germany; Caucasian; rejected family and only kept sporadic contact with family after divorce from wife.
mother:
Daisy Wilson. Cleaning woman. Black; divorced from Wilson's father; remarried.
step-father:
David Bedford.
daughter:
Sakina Ansari Wilson. Born in 1970; mother, Brenda Burton.
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