Opinion: We Aren’t August Wilson — We Can Only be Ourselves

By Mike Downing

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Today’s entry features a compelling op/ ed by Linda Jean Kittel, August Wilson’s sister. Click the image for the complete article.

My take?  While I appreciate what they are trying to accomplish with the “I am August Project,” I am in full agreement with Linda Jean in terms of the misguided title.  She is not August.  I am not August.  Only he was August.

I don’t understand why we need to claim to be someone we’re not in order to feel connected to one another.  There’s got to be better names, such as “Remembering August” or even the original nickname, “The Pantone Project.”

The title is even more problematic in terms of attempting to homogenize humanity.  Mr. Wilson definitely saw racial lines and boundaries.  He authored an essay called “I want a black director“—and what do you think “Fences” is about?  It’s about the boundaries people face because of the color of their skin.

To be clear: This is not to say he was racist in terms of being bigoted.  August Wilson was no bigot. However, to gloss over the differences that lead to significant inequity in how whites and blacks are treated is to diminish his memory and misunderstand his legacy.  I think they should go back to the drawing board on this and come up with a new title for the project.

International City Theatre (Long Beach, Ca.) to Continue 30th Season with “Fences” by August Wilson

By Mike Downing

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“Fences” will run Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m and Sundays at 2:00 p.m, August 21 through September 13 at the International City Theatre in Long Beach, Ca.

Two preview performances take place on Wednesday, August 19 and Thursday, August 20 at 8:00 p.m.

Tickets are $46 on Thursdays and Fridays, and $48 on Saturdays and Sundays, except opening night (August 21), for which tickets are $54 and include a post-performance reception with the actors, and previews which are $34.

August Wilson’s Mythic Character Aunt Ester Explored in Theater Festival (from 2009)

By Mike Downing

I’ve been working on co-authoring a paper on “Two Trains Running” with an Iranian scholar, and, as a result, have been reading about Aunt Ester. That’s when I found this article, published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette six years ago.

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Lillias White and Anthony J. Haney in “Gem of the Ocean”