Since my late husband, August Wilson passed away in 2005, I have often felt him sitting beside me, giving me comfort, no more so than when I am hearing his plays. I don’t ever tire of seeing the productions because I remember his sense of humor, his sharp irony, his courageous pursuit of justice, and the love he had for his characters, every single one of them.
Now in 2018, his work has slowly moved into the classic, timeless category. He has as much to say about the times we are living in now than ever. In 2016 he was the most produced playwright in America! And more people know his name because of the full screen motion picture, FENCES in 2017. Actors that have performed in his British productions have given him the unofficial moniker, “America’s Shakespeare”. Why? My answer is always, “within the specific you will find the treasure of the universal.” August, while seeking out all the beauty, the struggle, the truths and wisdoms in African American Culture mined the larger themes that make us all human. How can we ever forget the powerful poetry in his plays depicting love, honor, duty, betrayal, forgiveness…?
August Wilson did not live in Pittsburgh all his life, but he carried Pittsburgh in his heart, always. It was the grand canvass upon which he painted the lives of his characters. All but one of his plays is set in this great city. The dedication of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture here, is something that would have made him beam with pride and joy. It is also a place that he would have appreciated greatly when he was a young man growing up on the Hill. I am honored to have a close relationship with Janis Burley Wilson, president, and to be kept abreast of the dreams and goals of this institution.
All of us who knew and loved August Wilson still miss him terribly, but are consoled that, as an artist, he continues to shine a light to the future. May the future of the August Wilson Center shine as brightly.
Constanza Romero 2018, Seattle, WA