“I have a long and valued relationship with the Huntington. They have contributed enormously to my development as a playwright, and I guard that relationship jealously.” – August Wilson (in 2004)

August Wilson had a unique relationship with the Huntington, as eight of his plays were produced here before they went on to New York (7 to Broadway, and one Off Broadway). Our audiences and staff alike have wonderful memories of encounters with Mr. Wilson, and he felt a special connection with the theatre as well. With How I Learned What I Learned, the Huntington will have produced all of Wilson's works for the stage - all 10 plays in his Century Cycle and his theatrical memoir.

1900s: In Gem of the Ocean (2004-2005 season), Aunt Ester, 285 years old, redeems and cleanses the souls passing through her door.

1910s: In Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (1986-1987 season), at Seth and Bertha Holly’s boardinghouse, a variety of characters look for people and families they’ve lost.

1920s: In Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2011-2012 season) Ma Rainey visits a recording studio to lay down new tracks of old favorites when racial tensions explode.

1930s: In The Piano Lesson (1987-1988 season), Boy Willie wants to sell the family piano and buy the land their ancestors worked as slaves. His sister Bernice refuses because it is carved with their entire family history.

1940s: Floyd Barton just needs a bus ticket to Chicago so he can cut some records in Seven Guitars (1995-1996 season). Short of options, he turns to theft and meets an untimely end.

1950s: Thwarted baseball player Troy Maxson works as a garbage man in Fences (2009-2010 season). His stubbornness, envy, and fear cause him to sabotage his son’s burgeoning athletic career.

1960s: In Two Trains Running (1990-1991 season), Memphis Lee’s lunch counter faces destruction, while Sterling Johnson tries to put his life back together after serving time. There are two trains running every day: which one will get you where you’re going?

1970s: Jitney (1998-1999 season) chronicles unlicensed black cab drivers — jitneys — who serve the Hill District of Pittsburgh where most cabs refuse to go.

1980s: King and Mister, children of characters from Seven Guitars, sell stolen refrigerators in King Hedley II (1999-2000 season). Revelations about King’s past and Aunt Ester’s death make King’s future unbearably bleak.

1990s: In Radio Golf (2006-2007 season) the last play of the Century Cycle and of Wilson’s life, Aunt Ester’s house hangs in the balance when developer Harmond Wilks slates it for destruction.


Two years before his death in 2005, August Wilson wrote and performed an unpublished one-man play entitled How I Learned What I Learned about his days as a struggling young writer in Pittsburgh’s Hill District and how the neighborhood and its people inspired his amazing cycle of plays about the African American experience.

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