American Masters 'August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand'

Feb 9, 2015

Fri. Feb. 20 - 9pm on WKAR-HD 23.1 | THIRTEEN’s American Masters series and Pittsburgh PBS affiliate WQED join forces to explore the life and legacy of playwright August Wilson — the man some call America’s Shakespeare — from his roots as an activist and poet to his indelible mark on Broadway.

August Wilson
Credit Courtesy of David Cooper, 2004 / PBS

The film offers unprecedented access to Wilson’s (April 27, 1945 – October 2, 2005) theatrical archives, rarely seen interviews and new dramatic readings bring to life his seminal 10-play cycle chronicling each decade of the 20th-century African-American experience; including the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning Fences and Pulitzer Prize-winning The Piano Lesson.

Film and theater luminaries, including Viola Davis, Charles Dutton, Laurence Fishburne, James Earl Jones, Suzan-Lori Parks and Phylicia Rashad, share their stories of the career- and life-changing experience of bringing Wilson’s rich theatrical voice to the stage. Wilson’s sister Freda Ellis; his widow, costume designer Constanza Romero; friends; colleagues and scholars trace Wilson’s influences, creative evolution, triumphs, struggles and quest for cultural determinism before his untimely death from liver cancer.