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.
- "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 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."
- "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.