August Wilson once dropped out of school, disillusioned after having been unjustly accused of plagiarism by a racist instructor who could not fathom the artistic and intellectual genius of a then young Black male writer. Wilson was not disillusioned forever. Having now completed a decade by decade cycle of seven plays that illustrate the complexity, problems, and beauty of Black American life, Wilson sits at the pinnacle of American playwrights who have achieved world-renown. He first became involved in theatre in the late 1960s when he co-founded the Black Horizons Theater which was a community theatre located in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. His first professional production was "Black Bart and the Sacred Hills" which was based on an earlier series of poems. "Black Bart..." was produced at St. Paul's Penumbra Theatre in 1981. Wilson's breakthrough occurred when Lloyd Richards--then Dean and Artistic Director of the Yale Repertory Theatre--brought Wilson to the Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference and premiered his plays at the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, USA. Richards, the only Black American at Yale to have a Department Chair named for him, was a major influence on and expert collaborator with Wilson, who used Yale as a workshop for developing many of his productions. To date, his plays have been staged on Broadway and at regional theatres across the United States. He has won Pulitzer Prizes for "Fences" (1987) and "The Piano Lesson" (1990) and New York Drama Critics Circle Awards for "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom", "Fences", "Joe Turner's Come and Gone", "The Piano Lesson", "Two Trains Running", and "Seven Guitars". His most recent works include "Jitney" and "King Hedley II". He has been honored with Rockefeller and Guggenheim Fellowships in Playwrighting; is an Alumnus of New Dramatists and a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, further demonstrating an artistic, intellectual, and literary profundity that has assured him a permanent and prominent place in the history of American Theatre.
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