While building upon previous August Wilson Society national gatherings, “August Wilson on the Margins – Understudied and Underrepresented” will push August Wilson studies into uncharted areas that, thus far, have been treated either tangentially or completely neglected. Organizers of the 2020 colloquium see its mission to be to explore an even wider range of voices and topics from artists, graduate school educators, high school students, community leaders, activists and academics. The event will offer thought-provoking roundtable discussions, breakout sessions, performances, workshops, and networking opportunities and showcase the wisdom and ongoing work of “Wilsonian Warriors” acclaimed actress, director, and producer Michele Shay, perhaps best known for her Tony Award-nominated performance in the Broadway production of Wilson’s Seven Guitars; Pittsburgh-based actor Wali Jamal; and Willa Taylor, the inaugural recipient of the 2019 August Wilson Society Annual Exemplar awardee. Taylor is Director of Education & Engagement at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, the first American regional theatre to mount Wilson’s entire Pittsburgh Cycle, a series of ten plays, each set in a different decade, that depict comic and tragic aspects of the African-American experience in the 20th century.
August Wilson (1945-2006) was one of America’s greatest playwrights, winning two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama over the course of his distinguished career. The August Wilson Society was established at Howard University within the College of Arts and Sciences in spring 2006, shortly after the passing of August Wilson at age 60, to develop multiple ways of sustaining and passing along the playwright’s legacy. The society defines itself as an interdisciplinary learning community of instructors, students, and theatre lovers who remain dedicated to commemorating August Wilson’s legacy by promoting the studying, teaching, researching, performing, and ultimately the safeguarding of the rich narrative of the African American past that Wilson has bequeathed to us in the form of 10 plays that chronicle the stories of African Americans from 1904 to 1997. Because of August Wilson, the doors of mainstream theatres opened wider than before to the voice and perspectives of African descended people, many of whom are involuntary immigrants in this country.