Call for Papers: August Wilson Author Society through the American Literature Association (ALA CFP 2017)

6 Dec

Wilson as FencesBy Mike Downing

The August Wilson Author Society has announced its fifth annual call for papers for the 28th annual American Literature Association Conference, to he held in Boston, Mass., May  25-28 at the Westin Copley Place, 10 Huntingdon Avenue, Boston.

Fifteen-minute papers are invited for a panel session on any aspect of August Wilson’s work.

Please send one-page proposals, including paper title, author name, academic affiliation, and email address as a Word document to Michael Downing (   Three papers will be selected.

Deadline for proposal submissions: January 22, 2017.

Conference Director: Olivia Carr Edenfield, Georgia Southern Unviersity

Conference Fee: For those who pre-register before April 15, 2017: $90
($60 for Graduate Students, Independent Scholars, and Retired Faculty).

After April 15, the fees are $100 and $75, respectively. Additional details about the conference are available here.

Questions?  Contact Dr. Downing at the email address listed above.

For a PDF version of this CFP, click here.


ESSENCE Magazine Brings in the Cheer with ‘Fences’ Star Studded Cover

24 Nov

denzel-viola-fences-essenceBy CoCo Harris

This December brings special holiday cheer as two-time Oscar Winners Denzel Washington and Viola Davis flank the cover of ESSENCE magazine.

ESSENCE features the story of this first film adaptation of the August Wilson’s Century Cycle making it to the big screen.

Denzel and Viola speak on the significance of bringing this African American experience to film audiences —and why Mr. Wilson’s words are as important today as they will be tomorrow.

They discuss their reunion after the award-winning Broadway revival of Fences back in 2010, and the mutual honor they feel continuing the legacy of our beloved, master storyteller, August Wilson.

Check newsstands today for what ESSENCE calls their “Holiday Magic” cover.

‘Seven Guitars’ Opens at Yale Rep on Nov. 25, 2016

20 Nov

Timothy Douglas

By Mike Downing

August Wilson’s Seven Guitars is set to run from Nov. 25 through Dec. 17 at the Yale Rep in New Haven, Conn.

The play is directed by Timothy Douglas.

Check out the cool wardrobe sketches below.  They really capture the style of the time.

For tickets and additional information, click here.


Holiday Magic Approaches as an August Wilson Wish Comes True

18 Nov


By CoCo Harris

Holiday magic is coming to a theater near you as August Wilson’s Fences, starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, is slated to open on Christmas Day.  Wilson fans across the country and around the world are looking forward to this much-awaited release.

Fences is directed by Denzel, who is also under contract with HBO to direct the remaining nine plays of Wilson’s Century Cycle.

Wilson, you may recall, was resolute in his desire for a black director. In an interview with professors Sandra Shannon and Dana Williams[1], the two-time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright spoke to the permanence of the medium of film with regard to this demand.

When Professor Williams probed, “But you had white directors for your plays. What’s the difference between that and having a white director for your film?”

“The difference is that film is forever,” Wilson retorted. “A film will be here 150 years from now. I would want that permanent record to be best reflected by a person of my culture.”

The two major issues at stake for Wilson are permanence and cultural verisimilitude. Any art that can be consumed for generations to come should be preserved in its most authentic form —as the artist intended.

Furthermore, Wilson contends that these plays are his story.  “The plays are my autobiography decade by decade,” he told Herb Boyd in an interview in 2000[2].

Denzel and Viola, along with Stephen McKinley Henderson, Mykelti Williamson, and Russell Hornsby all starred in the 2010 acclaimed Broadway revival of Fences —and this same crew, joined by other cast mates, will resurrect this work in theaters this holiday season.

Denzel announced last year that he would bring the entire August Wilson Century Cycle to screen as reported by Playbill last fall. The Hollywood Reporter has given us first glimpses of this production. The trailer for Fences is on

So, on Christmas Day, the world gets to experience a wonderful and familiar story about the tensions that exist between fathers and sons.

And, on Christmas Day, an August Wilson wish comes true. Not only does the beloved Denzel star in the leading role, he also directs this anticipated adaptation of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize winning play.

Verisimilitude delivered.


[1] August Wilson and Black Aesthetics, Eds. Dana Williams and Sandra Shannon, Palgrave Macmillan (2004)

[2] Conversations with August Wilson, Eds. Jackson Bryer and Mary Hartig, UP of Mississippi (2006)

August Wilson Theatre to Host Edward Albee Memorial

9 Nov

augustwilsontheatreBy Mike Downing

The August Wilson Theatre, 245 West 52nd Street, will host a tribute to playwright Edward Albee on Tuesday, December 6 at 1 p.m. Albee’s friends and associates are organizing the memorial.

Albee, who died on Sept. 16, 2016 at the age of 88, wrote more than 30 plays, including The Zoo Story, The Death of Bessie Smith, The Sandbox, Fam and Yam, The American Dream, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Ballad of the Sad Café, Tiny Alice, A Delicate Balance, Box and Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, All Over, Seascape, Listening, Counting the Ways, The Man Who Had Three Arms, Finding the Sun, Marriage Play, Three Tall Women, Fragments, The Play About the Baby, The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?, Occupant, At Home at the Zoo, and Me, Myself and I.

A limited number of seats will be available to the general public, on a first-coedward-albee2me, first-served basis. Doors open at 12:30 p.m.

Albee was a member of the Dramatist Guild Council and president of the Edward F. Albee Foundation. He was awarded the Gold Medal in Drama from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1980 and in 1996 received the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts. In 2005 he was awarded a special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement.

The Edward F. Albee Foundation, which he created 50 years ago, will continue to provide residencies for writers and visual artists at the Foundation’s headquarters in Montauk, NY.

August Wilson Podcasts (1&2)

26 Oct

By Mike DowningDavid Cooper Photography 202-950 Powell St. Vancouver BC V6A1H9 604-255-4576

I’ve been exploring the world of podcasting recently and have been able to make two of my own recordings.  My intention, over time, is to create podcasts related to August Wilson.

The first one is very short (30 seconds) and is basically me trying to see how SoundCloud worked.  It’s just a test, but I wanted to document it here as a starting point:

Listen to AW podcast 1 (test) by DrD on SoundCloud

The second one is almost four minutes and provides some of the highlights of the August Wilson Society Conference held at Howard University in Washington, DC in early October 2016:

Listen to AW podcast 2 by DrD on SoundCloud

I hope to continue to produce audio material as I move my projects forward.  Certainly, this is a great platform for interviews, which, I believe, CoCo is also interested in producing.  Good synergy there.

That’s it for now.  There is a dial-in conference call for the Howard August Wilson Society this Sunday at 6 p.m.  I’ll try to post an update after that event.

DEAR AUGUST: A Multimedia Epistolary Tribute to August Wilson

25 Oct

By CoCo Harristospfollowyourlifenarraitve

Greetings, readers of the August Wilson blog.  My name is CoCo Harris and I am happy to be contributing to Professor Downing’s project.

My own project, DEAR AUGUST, is a creative work celebrating the life and work of Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, August Wilson. This is an ongoing artistic and literary project in the form of an open letter compiling narratives, photography, poetry, artwork, and interviews forming a collective re-memory honoring the man and his work.

This project seeks to explore how Mr. Wilson’s life and words have informed/transformed our view of African American and American life, within and beyond his focus on the 20th century.

I am seeking creative responses —across genres and art forms— in an open letter to our beloved playwright…father, son, cousin, uncle and brother. Let us dig deep for those meaningful remembrances of the griot and his oeuvre.

Participants of this ongoing project range from barons of the theater of all walks of life (including actors, directors, playwrights, dramaturges, designers, critics, and patrons, etc.) to friends, family, scholars and artists. In this project we ask you to:

1) Tell a story about your relationship to August Wilson and/or his body of work

2) Tell who you are because of it

To learn more and participate in “DEAR AUGUST…”, please visit:

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