The University Library System is planning a weeklong celebration from Feb. 24 to March 3 to mark the grand opening of the August Wilson Archive, which it acquired in 2020.
The week will culminate with “From the Hill to the Stage: Celebrating the August Wilson Archive with the University of Pittsburgh Library System” — a grand opening event from 6 to 8 p.m. March 3 at Hillman Library. Find more information at augustwilson.library.pitt.edu.
The March 3 event will include:
Displays of Wilson's Archive including scripts and production materials of American Century Cycle plays; a sample from hundreds of writing tablets and notebooks which contain drafts of dialogue from all of Wilson’s plays along with poetry, artwork, and other writing; and other gems from the collection!
August Wilson in Place, presented by the Department of English: This digital map connects the plays of August Wilson with the textures of place (for example: music, food and locations) through digital annotations ranging from student projects, archival objects, and media materials.
Preview of “The Hill District: Resilience & Revival,” a work-in-progress film made as part of Pitt's “Making the Documentary: August Wilson and the Hill” class, in collaboration with director Jumoke Davis.
Musical performances curated by Pitt Jazz Studies
Remarks by Kornelia Tancheva, director of the University Library System, and Constanza Romero, August Wilson's widow and a costume designer and artist.
Other activities during the week
Guided Tours of The Writer’s Landscape, 3 p.m. Feb. 24, August Wilson Cultural Center: This is the first-ever immersive exhibition dedicated to the life and work of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson. Click here to free ticketing
Biography and Social Relations: What the August Wilson Archives reveal about the playwright and/or the Hill District, 1 p.m. Feb. 25, August Wilson House. This panel discussion will use the August Wilson Archive to peer into Wilson’s world. From birth to 13, how did his family and neighborhood shape who he became and what he created? What clues to his future as a poet and a playwright are scattered among his archives? By exploring his papers, what do we learn about his mother, his father, himself, and his identity with “Blackness”? Click here to free ticketing
From Archive to Creation: Real-Life Connections, 5:30-7 p.m., Text & conText Lab, Hillman Library. Explore your own connection to the world and words of August Wilson by creating a mixed-media collage in this hands-on workshop. Using reproductions of text and visual elements from the August Wilson Archive, as well as vintage material from magazines and other sources, build your own unique artwork bridging Wilson’s world and yours. The event is hosted by the Center for Creativity, and the facilitator is Deavron Dailey, a mixed-media artist from Detroit who now lives and works in Pittsburgh. Click here to free ticketing
The Six B’s that Influenced August Wilson, 6 p.m. March 1, Blakely Center/Hill District Community Engagement Center. In a 1999 interview with The Paris Review, playwright August Wilson stated that his work was heavily influenced by Six B’s. Each panelist will weigh in with their thoughts and how the discovery of these influences have heightened their views on August Wilson’s writing style. Panelists: Kim El (The Blues), Justin Laing (Amiri Baraka), Bonita Lee Penn (Jorge Luis Borges), and interactive art activity led by Deavron Dailey (Romare Bearden). Presented by #ArtsInHD. Click here to free ticketing
Encounters in the August Wilson Archive, 10 a.m. March 2, August Wilson Cultural Center. This panel brings together scholars, artists, educators, and students to reflect on the personal, intellectual, and artistic import of the August Wilson Archive. Panelists will respond to materials they encounter in the collection and illuminate the ways they help deepen our understanding of Wilson’s life and work and its relation to the larger socio-historical record. Presented by the August Wilson Society. Click here to free ticketing
On-demand programs and recordings of the live, in-person events will also be available to view beginning Feb. 24.
SEE ‘SEVEN GUITARS’
In addition, the Department of Theatre Arts will present “Seven Guitars,” the sixth in August Wilson’s decade-by-decade exploration of the black experience in America, from Feb. 17 to 26 at the Charity Randall Theatre.
The play marks the first time Pitt Stages has produced an installment from Wilson’s American Century Cycle and only the second production to feature an all-Black cast since the Department of Theatre Art’s founding in 1982.
Set in Pittsburgh in 1948, the play depicts friends gathering to mourn the unnatural death of the talented, but ill-fated, blues guitarist Floyd Barton and chronicles the weeks leading up to his demise. Click here for tickets.