August Wilson Mural Part Two: Video

15 Aug

20170713_123142By Mike Downing

Here is a link to the short video I took of the August Wilson Mural in the Strip District.  It provides a nice sense of the scale of the project, a scale that is difficult to capture in a single photo.




August Wilson Mural

14 Aug

By Mike Downing

During my trip to Pittsburgh, I was able to visit the Hill District to see the August Wilson Mural, done my Kyle Holbrook and Edward Rawson (and possibly others, as I am told). has created a web page dedicated to the artwork.  My own images appear below.

I also have a video that I’d like to upload.  Will try to post that separately.


Meeting with Richard Kittel

13 Aug


By Mike Downing

During my trip to Western Pennsylvania, I was able to meet with August Wilson’s brother, Rich Kittel.  Rich is interested in publishing his memoirs as they relate to August, so I am in the process of locating a writer and guiding the process.

More on this as it emerges.  Definitely excited to be working with Rich.  Hopefully, we can turn this into a book, somewhere down the road.

Visit to August Wilson’s Pittsburgh

12 Aug

By Mike Downing

I recently traveled to Pittsburgh to meet with representatives from the University of Pittsburgh about the August Wilson Journal.  While I was in town, I visited Mr. Wilson’s birthplace, a mural in the Hill District (which I will post separately), and his grave site.

See images below.


Historical marker at Mr. Wilson’s childhood home.


Side view of the Wilson home.


Grave stone.  Note the epitaph: “Wherever you are, you are.  I’m here.”

Congo Square Theatre Company (Chicago, Ill.) sets 2017-18 season: ‘Jitney’ Slated for Jan. 12-Feb. 18, 2018

11 Aug

Jitney CoverBy Mike Downing

Congo Square Theatre Company has announced its 18th season and August Wilson’s “Jitney” is scheduled for mid-January to mid-February, 2018.

For details, click here.

The Death of a Companion and a Return to Blogging: “Keep on Swinging”

10 Aug

By Mike Downing



Trying to return to blogging after a busy summer…


I want to begin by pausing for a moment to commemorate my beloved cat, friend, and companion, Ashes, who died on June 5, 2017 at the age of 15 years and four months.  He had more love in his heart than anyone I ever knew and he will be sorely missed.  Thank you, Ashes, for so many great years and for giving yourself so completely to this life.




We are thankful that we still have Ashes’s brother, Pumpkin, with us.  We hope he lives for a long time. Throughout this process we have learned that, despite the most painful and difficult moments in our lives, it’s important to keep on swinging.  We think August Wilson would like that expression.

We hope Pumpkin keeps on swinging.


On to Mr Wilson…

There has been a lot of activity in the area of Wilson studies during the summer and I am hoping to provide regular updates as we move into the 2017-2018 school year.

Dave Anderson and I met with the staff from Pitt and the journal is on track.  We are waiting for a signature from Kutztown so that the contract can be finalized.  At that point, we will issue a CPF and plan to begin publishing in 2018.

In addition to soliciting scholarly articles, we plan to launch a series of interviews with people who knew August, personally.

The August Wilson Society continues to talk regularly and make progress on various matters.  Again, I’ll try to provide updates here from time to time.  Need to gather my notes.

There is a lot more in the mix, but I need to get on to planning my classes for the fall.  I just wanted to get this initial post up so that I could begin to build momentum again.

Keep on swinging.


AWS Renounces Unauthorized Biography of August Wilson

26 Jun

In an April 1 blog post, August Wilson Blog contributor CoCo Harris wrote about Patti Hartigan’s proposed biography of August Wilson.  A separate article also ran in the NY Times.

Since then, the August Wilson Estate–in the form of an email sent to approximately 82 recipients–has indicated that it has withdrawn its authorization for the project.  No specific reason was given.

In response, August Wilson Society President Sandra Shannon has released the following statement:

The August Wilson Society stands in solidarity with Constanza Romero and the Estate of August Wilson in renouncing Patti Hartigan’s recently publicized plans to write an unauthorized biography of August Wilson. This project strikes at the very core of the late playwright’s career-long battle against those who would wrestle ownership of another’s story, usurp their song, commodify it, and risk not “telling it right.”

An unauthorized biography also opposes the Wilson Society’s longstanding mission of “commemorating August Wilson by promoting the studying, the teaching, the researching, and the ultimate safeguarding of the rich legacy that Wilson has bequeathed to us in the form of 10 plays that chronicle the stories of African Americans from 1904 to 1997.”

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