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Book-Signing & Celebration: August Wilson: Pittsburgh Places in His Life and Plays

The Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (PHLF), Historic Hill Institute, and Hill Community Development Corporation are hosting a free public event on Saturday, February 26, 2011 at Ebenezer Baptist Church, 2001 Wylie Avenue, in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. The public is invited any time between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. to celebrate the publication of a 166-page guidebook, August Wilson: Pittsburgh Places in His Life and Plays, by Laurence A. Glasco and Christopher Rawson, with introductions by Kimberly C. Ellis and Sala Udin. RSVP (required by February 22): or 412-471-5808, ext. 527.

At 2:00 p.m., the authors will present brief remarks (see page 3 for brief bios of the authors). Representatives from BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, lead donors, will present complimentary copies to high schools and libraries in the city and county. The guidebook research, writing, design, and printing were supported by a Preserve America grant from the National Park Service, administered under the Preserving African American Heritage in Pennsylvania program of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The Multicultural Arts Initiative and 75 PHLF members and friends also contributed to the guidebook.

August Wilson is one of America’s great playwrights. He lived in Pittsburgh from his birth in 1945 to 1978, when he moved to St. Paul, MN, and later to Seattle, WA. He died in 2005 and is buried in Pittsburgh. Wilson composed 10 plays chronicling the African American experience in each decade of the twentieth century––and he set nine of those plays in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. He turned the history of a place into great theater. His plays, including Fences, The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running, Jitney, Gem of the Ocean, and Radio Golf have become classics of the American stage.

August Wilson: Pittsburgh Places in His Life and Plays guides visitors to key sites in the playwright’s life and work in the Hill District and elsewhere in the Pittsburgh area. The guidebook enriches the understanding of those who have seen or read his plays, inspires others to do so, and educates all to the importance of respecting, caring for, and preserving the Pittsburgh places that shaped, challenged, and nurtured August Wilson’s rich, creative legacy.

Contents of August Wilson: Pittsburgh Places in His Life and Plays, by Laurence A. Glasco and Christopher Rawson, include:

  • Introductions by Kimberly C. Ellis and Sala Udin;
  • Essays on the life and work of August Wilson and on Pittsburgh’s Hill District;
  • A guide to 45 places in the Pittsburgh area associated with Wilson’s life and plays;
  • Summaries of the 10 plays in Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle and a bibliography.

Book Specifications:

  • 166 pages, soft cover; 5? x 8?
  • 104 photos and maps (mostly color)
  • ISBN 978-0-9788284-7-9
  • Price: $8.95
  • Trade discount available
  • This is the fourth in a series of guidebooks published by PHLF. Other guidebooks feature H. H. Richardson’s Allegheny County Courthouse, Downtown Pittsburgh, and Connick stained glass. To order books: click on STORE. Or:; 412-471-5808, ext. 525.

    Founded in 1964 and recognized as one of the nation’s most innovative and effective nonprofit historic preservation organizations, the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (PHLF) works to: identify and save historically significant places; revitalize historic neighborhoods, towns, and urban areas; preserve historic farms and historic designed landscapes; and educate people about the Pittsburgh region’s rich architectural heritage.

    (1)    The activity that is the subject of this guidebook has been financed in part with Federal funds from the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. However, the contents and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of the Interior, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Department of Interior.

    (2)    This program receives Federal financial assistance for identification and protection of historic properties. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended, the U.S. Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability or age in its federally assisted programs. If you believe you have been discriminated against in any program, activity, or facility as described above, or if you desire further information, please write to: Office of Equal Opportunity, National Park Service, 1849 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20240.

    About the Authors

    August Wilson: Pittsburgh Places in His Life and Plays

    by Laurence A. Glasco and Christopher Rawson

    Published by Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, 2011

    Laurence A. Glasco, associate professor of history of the University of Pittsburgh, has a PhD in Afro-American and Ethnic History and has taught at the University since 1969 in those areas, as well as in Quantitative and Urban History. His essay, “Double Burden: The Black Experience in Pittsburgh,” published in City at the Point in 1989, was the first comprehensive survey of black history in this region. A trustee of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation and noted author and speaker, Glasco leads tours of Pittsburgh’s Hill District and interviews Hill residents on a regular basis in his ongoing efforts to research, document, and interpret the significance of the Hill.

    Christopher Rawson, a member of the University of Pittsburgh English Department since 1968, has a PhD in English Literature and teaches satire, criticism, August Wilson, and Shakespeare. Rawson is also senior theater critic for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PPG) and has twice been the chair of the American Theatre Critics Association. As the PPG’s full-time theater critic and theater editor from 1983 to 2008, he chronicled Wilson’s career in detail, starting with his Broadway debut in 1984, and compiled a comprehensive record of reviews, interviews, and news stories about his work. He was the first to suggest in print Hill District locations for Wilson’s plays.

    Introductions by Kimberly C. Ellis and Sala Udin

    Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis is a scholar of American Studies and African American Literature and History. She taught the first seminar course on August Wilson at the University of Pittsburgh, is the founder of AW-L, a listserv celebrating the life, literature, and legacy of August Wilson and is publishing a Teacher Training Workbook entitled “August Wilson for Young Minds,” for educational use in the schools, which can easily accompany PHLF’s guidebook. Dr. Ellis is also Executive Director of the Historic Hill Institute, which provides August Wilson Tours and much more. To schedule tours, please visit:

    Sala Udin, born and raised in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, grew up with August Wilson and established the Black Horizon Theater with Wilson and others in 1968. Sala is well known to Pittsburgh audiences for his performances in August Wilson’s plays. He played the lead in Jitney, performed by Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company in 2010, and he recently read the part of Cutler in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. Sala served in Pittsburgh’s City Council from 1995 to 2006. Recognized for his extensive community experience and leadership, Sala is on a number of boards and is President and CEO of the Coro Center for Civic Leadership in Pittsburgh.

    Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

    100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

    Pittsburgh, PA 15219

    Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633