This event has been postponed from its original date in late August to Sunday, November 5, at 2:00 PM.
Join us for a reading with author Patti Hartigan, who will read from her new book, August Wilson: A Life. A conversation with author and director Leslie M. Scott-Jones will follow. This in-person event will be free and open to the public. We recommend arriving early for the best seating.
About the Book: August Wilson: A Life is the first authoritative biography of August Wilson, the most important and successful American playwright of the late 20th century, by a theater critic who knew him.
August Wilson wrote a series of ten plays celebrating African American life in the 20th century, one play for each decade. No other American playwright has completed such an ambitious oeuvre. Two of the plays became successful films: Fences, starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, starring Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman. Fences and The Piano Lesson won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Fences won the Tony Award for Best Play, and years after Wilson’s death in 2005, Jitney earned a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.
Through his brilliant use of vernacular speech, Wilson developed unforgettable characters who epitomized the trials and triumphs of the African American experience. He said that he didn’t research his plays but wrote from “the blood’s memory,” a sense of racial history that he believed African Americans shared. Author and theater critic Patti Hartigan traced his ancestry back to slavery, and his plays echo with uncanny similarities to the history of his ancestors. She interviewed Wilson many times before his death. In August Wilson: A Life, she traces his life from his childhood in Pittsburgh (where nine of the plays take place) to Broadway. She also interviewed scores of friends, theater colleagues, and family members, and conducted extensive research to tell the story of a writer who left an indelible imprint on American theater and opened the door for future playwrights of color.
About the Author: Patti Hartigan is an award-winning journalist. As a staff member for The Boston Globe, she served as arts reporter and drama critic, along with a stint as cyber-culture columnist during the early days of the internet. She was an inaugural fellow in the Pew Charitable Trust National Arts Journalism Program and spent a year researching inner-city arts organizations in Los Angeles. She explored racial inequity in the art word in her award-winning 1991 Globe page-one series, The Fine Arts: A World without Color. A graduate of the University of Virginia, she now divides her time between Boston and Charlottesville, VA, where she is researching her next book.
About the Moderator: Leslie M. Scott-Jones is an African-American southern woman from Virginia, encompassing all that entails. The world premiere of her first play, Desire Moments, was part of the 2014 Capital Fringe Festival. Book Ends, her first full-length novel, hit the shelves in 2016. Not limiting herself to fiction, Leslie has written reviews and thought pieces for CNN, C-VILLE Weekly, and Vinegar Hill Magazine. She became the artistic director of the Charlottesville Player’s Guild, an all-Black theatre company, in 2016. Under the leadership of Dr. Andrea Douglas, CPG has embarked on a mission to produce all ten of August Wilson’s Century Cycle. Leslie has starred in Fences; directed Radio Golf, Gem of the Ocean, Two Trains Running, and Jitney; stage-managed The Piano Lesson; and produced Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. Leslie currently resides in Schuyler, Virginia.
August Wilson: A Life will be released on August 15. To order the book, please see below for the New Dominion Bookshop book order form or call the shop at 434-295-2552.
"[Hartigan] succeeds in capturing the multilayered complexities of one of America’s greatest playwrights—winner of ten Tonys, a Pulitzer Prize, [an] Academy Award, and two Emmys—through rigorous research and deep knowledge of his work."
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