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August Wilson’s first play of his ten-play cycle--one for each decade of the twentieth century--opens in 1984. He wins praise as a "distinctive new voice in theater" and two Pulitzers for the first five plays.
"Two Trains Running" is set in a Pittsburgh restaurant in 1969, four years after Malcolm X's death. The main character, Hambone, symbolizes the new black American man.
Born in a Pittsburgh ghetto in 1945, Wilson’s mother teaches him pride for his black culture. A school drop-out, he learns by reading, listening, and observing the stories around him.
Language describes the speaker, and thought patterns lie behind that. Interpretation comes from tonal quality. Storytelling forges identity, and writing is a process of self-discovery.
The blues is one of the “B’s” that influences Wilson’s plays. Music is the bedrock of his plays. The oral tradition also helps sustain the black culture. Wilson argues against assimilation.
"Joe Turner's Come and Gone" is a rediscovery and celebration of self. Wilson believes the 1915 migration of blacks from the South failed. "The Piano Lesson" symbolizes black suffering.
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Filmed on the set of Two Trains Running, one of Americas leading playwrights traces his work back to a troubled childhood in a Pittsburgh ghetto. His ongoing project to write a play on African American life set in each decade of the 20th century is one of the most ambitious endeavors in American theatrical history. In this program, he describes his award-winning plays Joe Turners Come and Gone and Ma Raineys Black Bottom as passing down the wisdom of the African American community. "Its almost as if Im connecting myself with something larger than myself and I trust that. Its part of what I call the bloods memory." (22 minutes)
Length: 22 minutes
Copyright date: ©1992
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