Performance in the African Diaspora: August Wilson and Beyond
"The people need to know the story. See how they fit into it. See what part they play." - August Wilson, King Hedley II.
In this seminar, students will read groundbreaking playwright August Wilson's 20th Century Cycle: ten plays that form an iconic picture of African American traumas, triumphs, and traditions through the decades, told through the lens of Pittsburgh's Hill District neighborhood. Other readings include supporting material on Wilson's work and African American theatre, the works of contemporary playwrights whom Wilson has influenced (such as Suzan-Lori Parks and Tarell Alvin McCraney), and context on Penn's relationship with West Philadelphia. In this Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) course, students have the opportunity to enhance their understanding of the plays, and history and culture that shaped them, by forming meaningful relationships with West Philadelphia residents, through our partner the West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. Wilson's plays provide the bridge between the two groups. The course culminates with students writing an original theatre piece inspired by the readings and relationships, which they will share at an end-of-semester performance.