By Mike Downing
August Wilson would have been 70 years old today, and despite the fact that we miss him terribly and wonder what he might have produced if he would have lived these past ten years (there was talk of turning toward comedy, of which Mr. Wilson had a wicked sense of humor that comes through, from time to time, in his various plays).
To celebrate his 70th birthday, I’ve decided to review a number of recent developments that have commemorated the life and work of Mr. Wilson.
First, there is the PBS American Masters documentary The Ground on Which I Stand, directed by Sam Pollard.
Then there is the play, How I Learned What I Learned, brought to the stage by Mr. Wilson’s protégé, Todd Kreidler, and recently staged by the Pittsburgh Public Theater (among others).
And then there is the BBC radio documentary, August Shines, produced by Lenny Henry, who recently won the London Critics’ Circle award for his portrayal of Troy Maxson.
All of this happening as the August Wilson Center literally gets a new lease on life, as “Two Trains Running” closes its run at the Goodman Theater in Chicago, and as I prepare to host the third annual August Wilson Society panel at the American Literature Association in Boston on May 22, featuring Alan Nadel, Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon, and Joyce Hope Scott.
It’s clear that Mr. Wilson’s legacy is thriving and what a great way to wish him a Happy 70th Birthday!