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How Playwright August Wilson's Loved Ones Brought Back His Memoir In Monologue13:30
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Eugene Lee plays August Wilson in "How I Learned What I Learned." The remains of a boxing ring make up much of the stage design. (Courtesy Huntington Theatre Company)
Eugene Lee plays August Wilson in "How I Learned What I Learned." The remains of a boxing ring make up much of the stage design. (Courtesy Huntington Theatre Company)
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August Wilson is often called one of the 20th century's most important American playwrights. His 10 play cycle, chronicling the African-American experience, includes "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," "Fences" and "Radio Golf," and it's considered a landmark in the history of black culture and Broadway theater.

Wilson died in 2005. An obituary in The New York Times ended with a quotation from Wilson himself: "I once wrote a short story called 'The Best Blues Singer in the World' and it went like this: 'The streets that Balboa walked were his own private ocean, and Balboa was drowning.' That says it all. All my plays are rewriting that same story. I'm not sure what it means, other than life is hard."

But, what about August Wilson's own life? That formidable story is told in the the play, "How I Learned What I Learned," currently onstage at the Huntington Theatre Company.

"How I Learned What I Learned" runs through April 3 at the Huntington Theatre Company's BU Theatre.

Guests

Constanza Romero, creative consultant and production designer for the Huntington Theatre Company's production of "How I Learned What I Learned." She's also August Wilson's widow.

Todd Kreidler, co-conceived "How I Learned What I Learned" with August Wilson in 2003. He's directing the Huntington's production and founded the August Wilson Monologue Competition.

Pulitzer prize-winning playwright August Wilson checks out listings for a local film festival following a stop for coffee Friday, May 30, 2003 in his Seattle neighborhood. After more than two decades in theater, Wilson made his stage debut two weeks earlier in his autobiographical monologue, "How I Learned What I Learned." (Ted S. Warren/AP)
Pulitzer prize-winning playwright August Wilson checks out listings for a local film festival following a stop for coffee Friday, May 30, 2003 in his Seattle neighborhood. After more than two decades in theater, Wilson made his stage debut two weeks earlier in his autobiographical monologue, "How I Learned What I Learned." (Ted S. Warren/AP)

More

The Boston Globe: Portrait Of A Playwright As A Young Man

  • "Anyone who knew August Wilson will tell you that he was a gifted raconteur — and that’s an understatement. The man could talk. And talk. And talk. He would spend hours regaling eager listeners at 'The Spot,' the name he gave to his cafe of choice in many a town. The late playwright, who is celebrated for his cycle of 10 plays that chronicle the black experience in America, spun tales extemporaneously."

The New York Times: A Playwright’s Journey, Mapped From The Inside

  • "The rough but fertile terrain from which August Wilson’s great body of work grew is explored in 'How I Learned What I Learned,' a memoir in monologue written and originally performed by the playwright in 2003. It is now being delivered by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, an actor and director with long experience of Wilson’s plays."

The New York Times: August Wilson, Theater's Poet Of Black America, Is Dead At 60

  • "August Wilson, who chronicled the African-American experience in the 20th century in a series of plays that will stand as a landmark in the history of black culture, of American literature and of Broadway theater, died yesterday at a hospital in Seattle. He was 60 and lived in Seattle."

This segment aired on March 8, 2016.

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