Writing for The Root, the Burton Wire‘s founder & editor-in-chief Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D. reviews the new PBS documentary on legendary playwright August Wilson. American Masters—August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand airs on PBS tonight. Read an excerpt from the article below:
American Masters—August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand, airing on PBS Feb. 20, gives an inside look at a private man referred to by many as an outsider. Wilson, the brilliant Pittsburgh-born playwright who wrote 10 plays—nine of which took place in his hometown—covering 10 decades, explored the cultural ideas and attitudes of what playwright-actor-director Ruben Santiago-Hudson calls “a specific type of people.” Through Wilson’s words and those of people closest to him, including colleagues, friends, family and community elders, along with excerpts from his award-winning plays, viewers are given a glimpse into the extraordinary life lived by an ordinary man.
The Ground on Which I Stand offers various types of commentary—scholarly, familial and collegial—about the mister behind the master of literature, who was able to capture the spirit and culture of a people in a way that is described as “super reality” in the documentary. The audience learns about the man behind the mythical figure who churned out Pulitzer Prize-winning plays and poetry that explored “the frustration and the glory of being black” (pdf) in America, as Santiago-Hudson says.
Wilson’s ability to show the beauty and brilliance of a group of people living on the margins of society in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, a place that is clearly a center of African-American life and culture, is unparalleled. He was able to articulate the language and draw meaning from the precarious pressure-filled spaces to create images of blackness that are complicated, rhythmic and powerful.
Read the article in its entirety on The Root. Check local listings for channel and airtime.