A short literary guide to one of this countryÆs greatest African American dramatists, August WilsonÆs Twentieth-Century Cycle Plays: A ReaderÆs Companion will serve a wide range of students, teachers, theater professionals, and theater audiences. Beginning with an account of August WilsonÆs life, from his impoverished childhood in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to achieving national acclaim, the book introduces the ten-play cycleùone for each decade of the twentieth centuryùas a whole, explaining WilsonÆs goals as a playwright: to depict African American life, primarily in Pittsburgh, during the century, illustrating the hardships, the suffering, the desperation, the small victories, the beauty and the bleakness, and the ultimate triumph of a community. Subsequent chapters place each play in the context of its decade by listing and discussing historical events that
influenced and comprised the background to the play. For each play there is a general introduction, a plot summary, a description of each character, and an appraisal of the work. The book also discusses August WilsonÆs non-cycle plays. Clear and accessible, the text enables readers to move into a deeper analytical exploration of the cycle plays.