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Jitney author August Wilson

9 Jitney was produced in New York for the first time in spring 2000 winning rave reviews and the accolade of the New York Drama Critics Circle as the best play of the yearOne of contemporary theater's most distinguished and elouent voices Wilson writes not about historical events or the pathologies of the black. Wellthis is not the first time I have read this play but I re read it for the project I m working on with my US History class I was an intern at Seattle Repertory Theater in 2001 2002 when I first read this play and encountered the man who wrote it I got to spend some time with August Wilson during that time and I had nothing but admiration for this particular play I loved the choral nature of the dialogue and the complicated relationship between the father and son Becker and Booster I also think that this is one of the best ends to an Act 1 that I ve ever read and seen August paid me a compliment during the time I spent with himhe told the other intern that was attached to him and I was only tagging along that she could bring me often because I had a good sense of humor I laughed a lot during the rehearsals for JITNEY when the rest of the theater was uiet and anyone who knows my laugh knows that it s infectiousAnyway it s still a good play and I really enjoyed re reading it62919Re reading for scene study class in a prison class I m teachingTwo students in one of the prison classes I m teaching are doing one of the BeckerBooster scenes and I re read the play because it looks like I might have to step in and play Becker because that student has ceased to come to class and the student playing Booster has worked very hard on his scene alreadyIt s interesting how life experience can make the perceptions one has for a play change I have been teaching at a predominantly African American Community College for the past five years and the vernacular has become second nature to me I guess I have gotten old too because the line Turnbo says about people not respecting themselves and thus not respecting others really resonated with me as someone who has transformed into someone who says things like These young people don t understand My father died since the first time I encountered this play and Becker s line that references how things don t matter after a monumental death and how you can t wait for God to decide to hold your hand if you want to change your situation you have to change it That took several years of being stuck in mourning to learn And just like Becker I realized that the things I thought used to matter just don t any I am also married now and have been in a relationship with the same person for over 11 years and the line Becker has about his second marriage about pulling and pushing really struck me This idea that sometimes one person pulls and the other pushes or the other way around but it s a good marriage as long as those movements are in the same direction It isn t easy butit s part of the work Anyway I m nervous to step into a role that a I should never do based on gender race age etc b is very fraught emotionally which is hard to do with the armor needed to teach behind bars butI have no choiceBack cover Set in 1970 in the Hill District of Pittsburgh that is served by a makeshift taxi company JITNEY is a beautiful addition to the author s decade by decade cycle of plays about the black American experience in the twentieth centuryuote I like Becker Ain t nothing left to do now but get married Come November it ll be seventeen years that me and Lucille been together Seventeen years I told her say work with me She say okay I wasn t sure what it meant myself I thought it meant pull or push together But she showed me one can push and the other can pullas long as it s in the same direction You know what I mean It ain t all gonna flow together all the time That s life As long as it don t break apart When you look around you ll see that all you got is each other There ain t much Even when it look like there isyou come one day to find out there ain t much worth having

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Set in the 1970s in Pittsburgh's Hill District and depicting gypsy cab drivers who serve black neighborhoods Jitney is the seventh in August Wilson's projected ten play cycle one for each decade on the black experience in twentieth century America A thoroughly revised version of a play Wilson first wrote in 197. August Wilson was a special treasure for the City of Pittsburgh His crowning gem was probable The Pittsburgh Cycle a series of 10 plays each set in a different decade revealing life for African Americans in the City of Pittsburgh Jitney is the story of Pittsburgh in the 1970 s Set in Pittsburgh s Hill District during a period of Urban Renewal Jitney service in Pittsburgh was very much a part of everyday life It also provided a microcosm for August Wilson to explore personalities and struggles faced by these drivers Struggles against challenges with government personal relationships and even with themselves are all hereThe characters are real and the frustrations and aspirations are accurately drawn August Wilson always breathes true life into his characters The men drawn here are people we have all met trying to improve themselves trying to help their families and merely trying to surviveYou care about these people and their struggles and ache for their pain in being unable to fight the juggernaut of the government and the oppression of society with its expectations August Wilson is always a good read

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Community but as he says about the uniue particulars of black culture I wanted to place this culture onstage in all its richness and fullness and to demonstrate its ability to sustain us through profound moments in our history in which the larger society has thought less of us than we have thought of ourselves. This is not my first foray into Wilson but it is the start of a concerted effort to finish the Century Cycle I m tackling them in the order they were written I wondered if this was the best way to go but now I can t imagine starting anywhere but with Jitney Like many plays the physical universe of Jitney is tiny It is confined to a single gypsy cab office connected to the outside world through the characters histories calls from customers and the appearance of Becker s son Booster home from 20 years in prison The limitation of place heightens the crisis at hand the city s plans to raze the building in their neighborhood Their lives as well as their jobs are rooted in that office Wilson thereby raises the stakes on what his characters will lose than their jobs and it drives home the importance of their decision not to leaveIt is a tense play almost throughout uieting in tone for the conclusion an interesting and uniue choice for a play the action usually goes the other way From the beginning Wilson sets his conflicts to a broiling point rooted in character development that seems improbable in the slim volume but which Wilson manages adroitly The main conflicts are between older meddling Turnbo and Youngblood a dreamer on the cusp of anchoring himself in adulthood both veterans Korea and Vietnam respectively Fielding an aged alcoholic and Becker and between Becker and his son Booster in whom he had placed all his dreams of a better life Wilson excels at anchoring his play with intense personal relationships while exploring race and racism overt and institutional class identity while creating a rich tapestry of Pittsburgh in the 1970s all without leaving the room It is not a perfect play Sometimes the characters particularly Becker and Booster have to come too uickly to the climax of their argument or have to bring home overarching concerns that don t yet feel uite natural But it still is brilliant and honest And the ending is without a doubt perfect I am referring specifically to the last line in particular The line reminds me of William Carlos Williams so much depends It is uiet and simple and powerful It speaks volumes It makes whole the play it develops Booster it shows us a future It is a subtle reclamation of power It is the taking of a stand and in a single sentence we know what that stand will be and why and why it is important Lacking Wilson s ability I can t sum up why it works so perfectly but it does It demonstrates Wilson s mastery of his craft and it gives us a glimpse of where he and his Century Cycle are headed


About the Author: August Wilson

August Wilson was an American playwright His literary legacy is the ten play series The Pittsburgh Cycle for which he received two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama Each is set in a different decade depicting the comic and tragic aspects of the African American experience in the twentieth centuryWilson was born Frederick August Kittel Jr in the Hill District of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania the fourth



10 thoughts on “Jitney author August Wilson

  1. says:

    Jitney first composed in 1979 was the first of August Wilson’s “Century Cycle” to be written and the last to reach Broadway in 2017 Although extensively revised in 1996 it still seems like an early play sunnier with a “slice of life” realist feel lacking the dark music and expressionistic touches that one comes to expect from August Wilson Still as is always true in a Wilson play the language is vivid and the portrait of the blac

  2. says:

    Jitney is play #8 in August Wilson's Century Cycle Jitney tells the story of a group of men who run a cab service Wilson focuses on their livelihood their dreams and their imperfections I enjoyed the cast of characters as well as the monologues from a few of them Although very minor I did like reading the references to characters in earlier p

  3. says:

    August Wilson was a special treasure for the City of Pittsburgh His crowning gem was probable The Pittsburgh Cycle a series of 10 plays each set in a different decade revealing life for African Americans in the City of Pittsburgh Jit

  4. says:

    A great play set around taxi drivers and their lives

  5. says:

    Penumbra Theater in St Paul Minnesota is celebrating its 40th Anniversary The theater's founders imagined a theater for by and about the black community It is only fitting that as part of its anniversary celebration that they have chosen to produce August Wilson's Jitney as Penumbra has a storied history with playwright August Wilson For instance Jitney was first produced as a one act at Penumbra in 1984 and has been produced twic

  6. says:

    Wellthis is not the first time I have read this play but I re read it for the project I'm working on with my US History class I was an intern at Seattle Repertory Theater in 2001 2002 when I first read this play and encountered the man who wrote it I got to spend some time with August Wilson during that time and I had nothing but admiration for this particular play I loved the choral nature of the dialogue and the complicated relationshi

  7. says:

    This is not my first foray into Wilson but it is the start of a concerted effort to finish the Century Cycle I'm t

  8. says:

    This book gets 355 stars too bad goodreads doesn't give 12 stars But anyway as I continue to read the August Wilson Century Cycle books during this fake spring break I realize that this man does not fail to keep hi

  9. says:

    This was the first August Wilson play I ever saw in an unforgettable production at the Union Suare Theatre but I'd never read the script itself until now and it's just as wonderful on the page as on the stage Wilson's gorgeous ensemble piece about car service drivers in Pittsburgh gifts each character with an arc and at

  10. says:

    OMG the last scene I don't normally read drama but I am starting to think I should read And of course this being a local play made it that much interesting for me Highly recommended

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