Theatre Thursdays: August Wilson and Colorblind Casting

When questioned on the identity of one Christopher Marlowe, Hallie Flanagan, then director of the Federal Theatre Project, said “Put in the record that he was the greatest dramatist in the period immediately preceding Shakespeare.”

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August Wilson

Well, put it in the record that August Wilson was the greatest American playwright at the turn of twenty-first century. A bold claim, I know, but one I stand behind. The latest of America’s greats, he belongs in the hallowed halls along with Miller, Hansberry, and Williams. The two-time Pulitzer Prize winner (Fences, The Piano Lesson) ┬ábecame famous for a series of ten plays known as the Pittsburgh Cycle, or alternatively as the American Century Cycle. Each one played on the stage of black life in America and American life in general in each of the decades of the twentieth century. Wilson captured the spirit of African-American existence and ambition in ways previously unattempted and unmatched in quality. His works are as much plays as they are staged ethnographies of the black experience, invigorating to those who could identify with them and illuminating to those who could not. He passed away in 2005. Continue reading