August Wilson

The life and legacy of August Wilson will be celebrated with party in Pittsburgh this weekend to commemorate his birthday.

Cake, music and performances from his Pittsburgh cycle of plays will take place at the Kaufman Center in the Hill House auditorium this Sunday, April 27, beginning at 3 p.m.

“The event will be intergenerational, a way to not only honor August Wilson’s legacy but to celebrate the vivaciousness of life and culture that he enjoyed putting on display,” says Kim Ellis of Dr. Goddess Arts, a sponsor of the event along with the Dramatists Guild.

“August Wilson is the gift that keeps on giving. He loved to laugh and socialize, so we’re doing just that, with a diverse group of Pittsburghers who like embracing culture and the magic of live theater.”

Special performances will feature Pittsburgh actors Sala Udin, Leslie Ezra Smith, Wali Jamal, and many more. Special guest Anthony Chisholm, who performed in many of his productions, will also be in attendance.

And August Wilson Monologue Contest participants will perform.

The Pulitzer Prize winning playwright was born Pittsburgh Frederick August Kittel on April 27, 1945. He wrote 16 plays during his lifetime, between 1973 and 2005. The series of 10 plays, known as his Pittsburgh Cycle, was among his most famous.

Nine of the 10 were set in the Hill District and two earned him the Pulitzer Prizes for Drama: Fences in 1987 and The Piano Lesson in 1996.

Each play is set in different decades, crafted to depict the black experience in the 20th century. Following his death from liver cancer in 2005, the Virginia Theatre in New York City’s Broadway district was renamed for him, the first Broadway theatre to bear the name of an African-American playwright.

The August Wilson Center for African American Culture opened in downtown Pittsburgh in 2009, with a 500-seat performing arts theatre, museum, café and multi-purposed spaces.

While the center has struggled financially, several groups have stepped forward with offers, including a developer interested in building a hotel on top of the center and a group led by The Pittsburgh Foundation supporting the building’s mission.

Reservations are required for the birthday party. Those wishing to send birthday greetings may do so by registering as a birthday card sender and by sending the card to gcody@dramatistsguild.com.

Deb Smit

Deb is an award-winning journalist who loves ancient places and cool technologies. A former daily newspaper reporter and Time-Life Books editor, she writes mostly about Pittsburgh. Her stories have appeared...