Tag: August Wilson

10 Gallon Bucket – August Wilson Quote

And in 1979, I was visiting Pittsburgh and one of the old men called me over to him. He called me, Youngblood. He say, ‘Youngblood.” I go, ‘Yes, sir.” He said, “I heard you moved.” And I said, “Yes sir, I moved to Minnesota.” He said, “Well how often do you get back to Pittsburgh?” And I said, “Well, I get back about twice a year.” And he said, “Well, I ain’t going to be here when you come back. But, I want to tell you this. I’ve been watching you for about six or seven years now. See, and you going through life carrying a ten-gallon bucket. And if you go through life carrying a ten-gallon bucket, you always going to be disappointed. ‘Cause it ain’t never going to be filled.” And he said, “Don’t you go through life carrying no ten-gallon bucket. Get you a little cup and carry that through life. And that way somebody put a little bit in it and then you have something.” And I go, ‘Yes, sir.”

I do want you to know that since then I have been working on it and I have got it cut down to about a gallon bucket. But, I do want you to know this also. That it ain’t never going to get down to that little cup. See, and it ain’t never going to get down to that little cup because I deserve more.

How I Learned What I Learned
August Wilson

August Wilson, American Bard – The New York Times

While worthy on its own, the play is just one-tenth of the monumental project that defined Wilson’s career. With “Jitney,” a story about a group of ’70s-era cabdrivers that he wrote in 1979, he began his Pittsburgh Cycle (a.k.a., the American Century Cycle): a decalogue about Black life, one for each decade of the 20th century, all — except for “Ma Rainey” — set in his Pennsylvania hometown, where he was born in 1945. He completed the plays out of chronological order, for he didn’t initially set out to create a series, but nonetheless found a story and characters to represent each decade. And he wrote right up to the end: In 2005, the year of his death from cancer at the age of 60, he finished the last one, “Radio Golf,” about white encroachment and local politics in the 1990s. In addition to these 10 dramas, he wrote six others, but it was the Cycle that solidified his legacy as one of the country’s most important playwrights, an essential figure in not just Black theater but the American canon as a whole; two weeks after his death, Broadway’s Virginia Theater was renamed in his honor.


Chief among them, perhaps, is the 65-year-old actor Denzel Washington, a producer of the new “Ma Rainey” film and one of the playwright’s leading advocates. In 2010, Washington won a Tony Award for his portrayal of the protagonist, a 1950s sanitation worker named Troy Maxson, in the Broadway revival of Wilson’s most lauded work, “Fences” (1985). In 2014, the Wilson estate, led by the playwright’s widow, Constanza Romero, now 62, approached the actor about adapting the entire Pittsburgh Cycle to film, beginning with the 2016 film version of “Fences,” which Washington directed, produced and starred in opposite Davis, who won an Oscar for her role as Maxson’s beleaguered wife, Rose.

Washington sees his responsibility as both Hollywood connector and Wilson custodian. He convinced Wolfe, 66, the renowned theater director, to helm the new film; and then worked with Romero to hire his friend Samuel L. Jackson and his son, John David Washington, to appear in the next Wilson film, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Piano Lesson” (1987), a 1930s saga about ghosts and a family heirloom that will be overseen by Barry Jenkins. For the rest of the Cycle, which will be shot out of order over the following years, directors and actors such as Ryan Coogler, Ava DuVernay and Laurence Fishburne are all “circling,” Washington says. Over the phone this fall, he compared this undertaking to a relay race, passing on the baton in hopes of winning new audiences for the classics that Wilson left behind. “Lord knows he couldn’t take them with him,” Washington says. “And thank God he did leave them. Now they’ve left them in my hands, and I put them in other people’s hands.”

August Wilson, American Bard
Perhaps no playwright has asserted the richness and complexity of everyday Black lives and language so deeply. Now, two screen projects affirm his legacy for new audiences.
Maya Phillips, NYTIMES

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone

“Still another is Joe Turner Blues. Here you get folklore with a bang. It goes back to Joe Turney (also called Turner), brother of Pete Turney, one-time governor of Tennessee. Joe had the responsibility of taking Negro prisoners from Memphis to the penitentiary at Nashville. Sometimes he took them to the “farms” along the Mississippi. Their crimes when indeed there were any crimes, were usually very minor, the object of the arrests being to provide needed labor for spots along the river. As usual, the method was to set a stool-pigeon where he could start a game of craps. The bones would roll blissfully till the required number of laborers had been drawn into the circle. At that point the law would fall upon the poor devils, arrest as many as were needed for work, try them for gambling in a kangaroo court and then turn the culprits over to Joe Turney. That night, perhaps, there would be weeping and wailing among the dusky belles. If one of them chanced to ask a neighbor what had become of the sweet good man, she was likely to receive the pat reply, ‘They tell me Joe Turner’s come and gone.'”

Handy, W.C. Father Of The Blues: An Autobiography. Da Capo Press, 1991.

via Wikipedia on August Wilson’s play by that name.