By Michael Downing
My attention has been so focused on developing the August Wilson Journal and working on my book project that I haven’t been able to keep up with blog posts. But I still would like to do them from time to time, so I’m going to try to get this one published as there is important information to cover.
August Wilson Society Social Media Coordinator Melonnie Walker has written a piece on the recent release of August Wilson’s How I Learned What I Learned, so you can look for her post within the next few days. She’s got some good quotes in there.
Beyond that, the colloquium: The August Wilson Society’s official colloquium, held the last weekend in April of 2018, was an amazing success. Mark Whitaker, author of Smoketown, was present to discuss his book, the Hill District, and August Wilson, who is covered in the book in some detail.
August’s widow, Constanza Romero, attended, updating the group on her activities. She is very busy managing the Estate. She also talked about her efforts to place August’s primary documents with a university which would be charged with maintaining the material in archival fashion.
Stanford’s Harry Elam was in the house, talking about his interactions with August, as well as drawing upon material from his book, The Past as Present in the Drama of August Wilson. It was nice to meet Harry and spend some time talking with him at the Hill District Block Party that was held on Saturday, April 28.
Long-time Post-Gazette theater critic and Pitt professor Christopher Rawson was in attendance and actually led a group of conference goers on a tour of The Hill. Chris is a fountain of knowledge and is also a member of the August Wilson House committee, which is working to renovate August’s childhood home and make it—with support from Duquesne University—into a place where artists can take up residence.
Sandra Shannon, August Wilson Society president and coordinator of the event, led the charge. Much praise should be delivered to her for her tireless work on all things August Wilson and the conference was no exception. I think it was successful beyond our wildest dreams.
Perhaps the high point for Sandra was interviewing two “Wilsonian Warriors” via Skype in front of the conference audience (it was a musical director for August’s plays and an actress; I can’t recall their names right now. I checked the conference program but the names were not listed. I’ll see if I can track them down).
We were supposed to go up to August Wilson’s birthplace and watch Mark Clayton Southers’ production of King Hedley II, but thunderstorms moved through the area and the event was canceled.
There was much, much more, but I can’t cover it all in a single blog post. If you want to see the program, click here: 2018 Colloquium Program.
If you want to support the August Wilson Society, click here.
To sum up, the colloquium was well attended and there were connections being made all across the spectrum. It was really amazing. Many thanks to the August Wilson Center for all of their help and support. They were truly awesome.
The next August Wilson Colloquium is tentatively scheduled for April of 2020, most likely at the August Wilson Center.