All you need in the world is love and laughter. That’s all anybody needs. To have love in one hand and laughter in the other.
August Wilson

About August Wilson

August Wilson (April 27, 1945 – October 2, 2005) was an American playwright whose work included a series of ten plays, The Pittsburgh Cycle, for which he received two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama. Each is set in a different decade, depicting the comic and tragic aspects of the African-American experience in the 20th century.

In 1959 Wilson was the only African-American student at the Central Catholic High School. He then attended Connelley Vocational High School. He dropped out of Gladstone High School in the 10th grade in 1960 after his teacher accused him of plagiarizing. Wilson hid his decision from his mother because he did not want to disappoint her.

In 1968, he co-founded the Black Horizon Theater in the Hill District of Pittsburgh along with his friend Rob Penny. Wilson’s first play, Recycling, was performed for audiences in small theaters, schools and public housing community centers for 50 cents a ticket.

Wilson’s best known plays are Fences (1985) (which won a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award), The Piano Lesson (1990) (a Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.


Classic Clips: August Wilson & Lloyd Richards on "Fences" (1987)

AMERICAN MASTERS | August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand | PBS

Playwright and Director (Working In The Theatre #125)

Select Credits

  • Radio Golf - Playwright, Cort Theatre

    2007 Tony Award Best Play [nominee]

  • Gem of the Ocean - Playwright, Walter Kerr Theatre

    2005 Tony Award Best Play [nominee]

  • King Hedley II - Playwright, August Wilson Theatre

    2001 Tony Award Best Play [nominee]

  • Seven Guitars - Playwright, Walter Kerr Theatre

    1996 Tony Award® Best Play [nominee]
    1996 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Play [nominee]
    1995 Pulitzer Prize for Drama [nominee]

  • The Piano Lesson - Playwright, Walter Kerr Theatre

    1990 Drama Desk Award Outstanding New Play
    1990 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
    1990 Tony Award Best Play [nominee]

  • Joe Turner's Come and Gone - Playwright, Ethel Barrymore Theatre

    1988 Tony Award Best Play [nominee]
    1988 Drama Desk Award Outstanding New Play [nominee]

  • Fences - Playwright, Richard Rodgers Theatre

    1987 Tony Award Best Play
    1987 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
    1987 Drama Desk Award Outstanding New Play

  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom - Playwright, Cort Theatre

    1985 Tony Award Best Play [nominee]
    1985 Drama Desk Award Outstanding New Play [nominee]