Thursday, November 17, 2011

"The Piano Lesson" by August Wilson

The Great Playwright, August Wilson

My AP English students and I read the novel Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, the play The Piano Lesson by August Wilson, and we read the short story "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker to accompany these two longer pieces.

We explored the themes of mysticism, the past is present, name and identity, symbolism etc in order to get to the deeper meanings of these text.

Wednesday, all of the things that must be done before we started the discussion on The Piano Lesson were due. So, around Tuesday, I asked the students:

"What did you think about this play?"

Most of the students stated: "nothing really happens in the play."

Now, if you have ever read or seen one of August Wilson's ten plays: Fences, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Radio Golf etc, it does seem as if there is nothing to them. However, once the layers are pulled back, it's evident that these plays are packed with the stories of everyday Black people in American.

August Wilson, prided himself on being a griot, West African word for storyteller, who, like Langston Hughes through his poems and short stories and Romare Bearden through his paintings, told the everyday Black person's story.

A Romare Bearden Painting

Upon close examination of The Piano Lesson, one can see that this play explores many issues that Black people faced, in America, in the 1900's.

The one issue that really struck me during this reading of the play is the connection to the past.

I thought a lot about my ancestors, the ones that were slaves and the ones that were not, and I wondered why do I not pursue that history more. Everybody who knows me, know that I love "The People," but I am perplexed as to why I have not researched my own history more.

I know all about Zora Neale Hurston, Dr. King, Rosa Parks etc, but what about my ancestors.......

I got a lot of work to do!!!!!

August Wilson died in 2005 at the age of 60. He is not physically here, but his presence is definitely still here.

If you had not seen or read one of his play, I think that you will be pleasantly surprised, and if you have experienced the works of August Wilson, let me know your thoughts.

Me with the cast of August Wilson's Radio Golf when it was playing
at The Studio Theatre in DC!

1 comment:

Tracy Ricks said...

Very Interesting! Another GREAT blog!!

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