African-American Theater

During the 20th century, African-American playwrights began gaining recognition and acclaim.
Page 2 of 2

Timeline: August Wilson

1945: Born Fredrick August Kittel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His father was a red-haired German immigrant, Fredrik Kittel; his mother, an African-American woman from North Carolina, Daisy Wilson.

1959: Endures abuse as the only African-American student at a local Catholic school.

1960: Drops out of high school.

1962: Serves a year in the Army, and then works at a variety of jobs, with no clear career path emerging.

1965: Changes his name to August Wilson shortly after the death of his father.

1968: Establishes Black Horizons Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota.

1978: Gets work writing for a science museum.

1982: Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is workshopped at National Playwrights Conference; connects with NPC head Lloyd Richards, who will direct many of his later productions.

1984: Ma Rainey hits Broadway; it later wins a New York Drama Critics Circle award.

1987: Wilson's Fences is a Broadway smash; it wins the Pulitzer Prize and sets a then-box-office record for a non-musical, grossing $11 million.

1988: Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone hits Broadway.

1990: Wilson's The Piano Lesson hits Broadway; it wins Wilson his second Pulitzer Prize.

1992: Wilson's Two Trains Running hits Broadway.

1996: Wilson's Seven Guitars hits Broadway.

1997: Engages in prominent debate with American Repertory Theatre director Robert Brustein on race and theatrical casting.

1999: Wilson's King Hedley II opens on Broadway.

loading gif