We talked with the producers of a new documentary nearly ten years in the making; "August Wilson: The Ground On Which I Stand" which focuses on the Pittsburgh born playwright and his ten plays over twenty years covering a one-century cycle of American history.
Our guests are Executive Producer Darryl Ford Williams and Deesha Philyaw, manager of the August Wilson Education Project.
The documentary was done in honor of the 70th anniversary of August Wilson’s birth and the tenth anniversary of his death. The documentary came to life when Williams thought of the idea to share Wilson’s story of his rise to the American stage.
Wilson did not begin his writings knowing he would produce a ten-play cycle. But according to Philyaw, nine of these plays are set in the Hill District, with universal themes. She says having local voices in the story helped bring the real voice of August Wilson to life and showed the significance of Pittsburgh to his development.
“One of the things he did that’s so critical is he listened. He was in the community and spent that time listening to the elders, spent it learning and gathering those voices. We learn in the documentary that it was some years later that those voices came back to him in the form of characters and from those characters he created scenes and from the scenes, the plays came forth. I think the lesson there is taking the time to listen and again finding it with the people you are with.”