- Category : Writers-Playwright-script
- Type : PSP
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Alignment 1
American playwright, whose prolific works chronicle the African-American experience in the United States. His 10-play cycle include "Fences," "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" and "Gem of the Ocean." His last play, "Radio Golf" was in performance when he died.
Wilson's "Fences" won a Tony for the Best Play of the year and he garnered six other Tony nominations, Pulitzer Prizes for "Fences" and "Piano Lessons." In addition, he set a new record when he won his seventh New York Drama Critics' Circle prizes.
One of six children whose father was a baker who had emigrated from Germany at the age of 10, young Frederick August Kittel dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Army. He left that too after a year and took menial jobs as a dishwasher, a porter, and the like. He changed his name to August Wilson when his father died in 1965.
A self-educated man, he began writing the same year as his father died. Initially he wrote poems but in 1968 he cofounded Pittsburgh's Black Horizon Theater for which he wrote a play called "Jitney." Twenty years and two revisions later, the play became a part of his 10-play cycle.
In 1978, he moved to Minnesota, where he landed a job writing for the Science Museum in St. Paul. He was subsequently awarded a fellowship at the Minneapolis Playwrights Center. As he honed his play-writing skills, his experiences growing up in Pittsburgh thrust their way into his work, and the city became the setting for nine of the ten plays.
In 1982, his play, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," was accepted by the National Playwrights Conference at the O'Neill Theater Center in Connecticut. There, Wilson met Lloyd Richards, who also ran the Yale School of Drama. Richards proved to be an important person in Wilson's life and directed six of Wilson's plays on Broadway.
"Ma Rainey" opened on Broadway in 1984, and, by 1987, with the debut of "Fences," starring James Earl Jones, Wilson had fully established himself as a force in the theater and in American culture.
Wilson was married three times and has two daughters, Sakina Ansari from his first marriage and Azula Carmen from his third.
He died of liver cancer at age 60 on October 2, 2005 in Seattle, WA. Wilson had revealed only a few months prior that he had only a few months to live. Following his death, a Broadway theater, the Virginia, was renamed for him.