Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Reference & Outreach Librarian
About The Piano Lesson
The Piano Lesson (video clip from August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand, 5:16 min)
The Piano Lesson, the 1930s-era drama from August Wilson’s century cycle is discussed in this video from August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand. The video features commentary on the ways in which The Piano Lesson reflects the African American experience. The full version of this film is available through Academic Video Online (see below for link).
"Berta, Berta" from "The Piano Lesson" Live in The Greene Space (video, 3 min)
The Greene Space presented a reading of August Wilson's The Piano Lesson on Sept. 9, 2013 — part of our historic festival recording all 10 plays in Wilson's American Century Cycle. Here, actors James A. Williams, Brandon Dirden, Jason Dirden and Chuck Cooper perform the prison song, "Berta, Berta."
Piano Lesson, by painter Romare Bearden (image and text)
Bearden "dedicated this painting to the great jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams, who, like Bearden, moved as a child from the South to Pittsburgh. The Piano Lesson also inspired Pittsburgh-native August Wilson's 1987 play of the same title."
About August Wilson & The Pittsburgh Cycle
August Wilson (bio)
Elkins, Marilyn. "Wilson, August." The Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature. : Oxford University Press, , 2002. Oxford Reference.
August Wilson's Hill District (map and text)
Use this interactive map to learn about some of the important landmarks in August Wilson's plays. "[The play] Radio Golf concludes an unprecedented American epic, a cycle of 10 plays, each set in a different decade of the 20th centruy. All but one take place in a fictional landscape based on this real Pittsburgh community."
August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand (video, 1hr 25 min.)
The first documentary about the Tony- and Pulitzer-winning playwright August Wilson is a co-production of THIRTEEN’s American Masters series and WQED.
August Wilson: The American Dream, in Black and White (video, 52 minutes)
"In this incisive program, two-time Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright August Wilson returns home to the Hill District of Pittsburgh in 1990 to review his life and career. Archival footage and interviews with Wilson, former New York Times theater critic Frank Rich, fellow writers, and others provide insights into the African-American experience, from the Great Black Migration to more recent times. Scenes from Jitney, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Fences, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, and Two Trains Running reveal the impact of oral tradition and the blues on Wilson’s poetic prose, a skillful blend of art and authenticity."
Historical Context & Related Sources
PITTSBURGH - 1930's/20th Century