August Wilson's ''Pittsburgh'' Plays timeline -- EW chronicles the ''Fences'' author's black theater catalogue

By Melissa Rose Bernardo
October 07, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

August Wilson’s 10 works chronicling a century of black life took just 23 years to produce. They’re often called the Pittsburgh Plays — nine take place in the Hill District (where Wilson grew up) — and most are available in published editions.

1900s GEM OF THE OCEAN (2003) Introduces 285-year-old ex-slave Aunt Ester, whose house at 1839 Wylie welcomes those in search of spiritual sustenance.

1910s JOE TURNER’S COME AND GONE (1986) An ambitious fusion of African tradition and Christianity set in a boarding house; the title comes from an old blues song.

1920s MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM (1984) A melancholy riff on art and commercialism in Prohibition-era Chicago.

1930s THE PIANO LESSON (1987) A brother and sister feud over the fate of the title instrument, a cherished memento and sorrowful reminder of their past.

1940s SEVEN GUITARS (1995) A flashback drama centering on the funeral of guitarist Floyd Barton; plants the seeds for King Hedley II.

1950s FENCES (1985) The playwright’s biggest hit focused on the bitter family struggles of Negro League baseball star-turned-trash collector Troy Maxson.

1960s TWO TRAINS RUNNING (1990) Wilson’s most political piece?set in a dilapidated diner?rises out of the civil rights years.

1970s JITNEY (1982) A prodigal son returns (from prison) as his dad’s gypsy cab company struggles to survive.

1980s KING HEDLEY II (1999) Shakespearean in scope, it confronts of-the-moment issues like abortion and drive-by shootings.

1990s RADIO GOLF (2005) An ambitious real estate mogul anchors this tale of the black bourgeoisie; fittingly, it all comes back to Aunt Ester.

”He was like a shaman, in that way where people used to tell stories

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