Tuesday, October 04, 2005

August Wilson: Farewell to a Theater Giant



I have been so nuts with work that I haven't had a chance to do much blogging, but I had to pay my respects to the brilliant August Wilson, whom we lost too soon last weekend.

I still can't believe that Seven Guitars is the only one of his plays I managed to see on Broadway, but I am so glad that I did see at least one. I have read all of his plays however and, unlike some works, they are truly as lyrical and vivid in black and white as they are on stage.

I also love how he held out for a black director for the film version of Fences ("I declined a white director not on the basis of race but on the basis of culture. White directors are not qualified for the job. The job requires someone who shares the specifics of the culture of black Americans.")

The film was not made, but that doesn't mean that it can't be made one day soon -- with a black director (Kasi Lemmons, anyone?)

Fittingly, the Virginia Theater on Broadway is due to be renamed the August Wilson Theater on October 17th.

Sadly, another fond farewell is due to Nipsey Russell whom I enjoyed so much as a little girl in The Wiz as the Tinman*, and on whatever game show he'd pop up on with one of his zany, insightful rhymes ("The opposite of pro is con/ That fact is clearly seen/ If progress means move forward/ Then what does Congress mean?")

I had no idea that he spoke four languages and served in World War II. Unfortunately, little is known about our black pioneers unless they were hallowed "firsts" (i.e. "The first black...")

Hopefully that will change soon.

* With corrections.... I was really tired when I posted the first time.

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