August Wilson / Dec 10, 2019

Jitney A major work by two time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson A thoroughly revised version of a play August Wilson first wrote in Jitney was produced in New York for the first time in the spring

  • Title: Jitney
  • Author: August Wilson
  • ISBN: 9781585673704
  • Page: 350
  • Format: Paperback
  • A major work by two time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson A thoroughly revised version of a play August Wilson first wrote in 1979, Jitney was produced in New York for the first time in the spring of 2000, winning rave reviews and the accolade of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award as the best play of the year Set in the 1970s in Pittsburghs Hill District, and depA major work by two time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson A thoroughly revised version of a play August Wilson first wrote in 1979, Jitney was produced in New York for the first time in the spring of 2000, winning rave reviews and the accolade of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award as the best play of the year Set in the 1970s in Pittsburghs Hill District, and depicting gypsy cabdrivers who serve black neighborhoods, Jitney is the seventh in Wilsons 10 play cycle one for each decade on the black experience in twentieth century America He writes not about historical events or the pathologies of the black community, but, as he says, about the unique particulars of black culture I wanted to place this culture onstage in all its richness and fullness and to demonstrate its ability to sustain us through profound moments in our history in which the larger society has thought less of us than we have thought of ourselves.

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    About "August Wilson"

      • August Wilson

        August Wilson was an American playwright His literary legacy is the ten play series, The Pittsburgh Cycle, for which he received two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama Each is set in a different decade, depicting the comic and tragic aspects of the African American experience in the twentieth century.Wilson was born Frederick August Kittel, Jr in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the fourth of six children to German immigrant baker, Frederick August Kittel, Sr and Daisy Wilson, an African American cleaning woman, from North Carolina Earlier, Wilson s maternal grandmother walked from North Carolina to Pennsylvania in search of a better life His mother raised the children alone by the time he was five in a two room apartment above a grocery store at 1727 Bedford Avenue.August Kittel changed his name to August Wilson to honor his mother after his father s death in 1965 In 1968, Wilson co founded the Black Horizon Theater in the Hill District of Pittsburgh along with his friend Rob Penny His first play, Recycling, was performed for audiences in small theaters and public housing community centers Among these early efforts was Jitney ,which he revised than two decades later as part of his 10 play cycle on 20th century Pittsburgh.In 1976 Vernell Lillie, founder of the Kuntu Repertory Theatre at the University of Pittsburgh two years earlier, directed Wilson s The Homecoming Wilson also co founded the Kuntu Writers Workshop to bring African American writers together and to assist them in publication and production Both organizations are still active.In 1978 Wilson moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota at the suggestion of his friend director Claude Purdy, who helped him secure a job writing educational scripts for the Science Museum of Minnesota In 1980, he received a fellowship for The Playwrights Center in Minneapolis Wilson had a long association with the Penumbra Theatre Company of St Paul, which gave the premieres of some Wilson plays.Wilson received many honorary degrees, including an honorary Doctor of Humanities from the University of Pittsburgh, where he served as a member of the University s Board of Trustees from 1992 until 1995.Wilson s best known plays are Fences 1985 which won a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award , The Piano Lesson 1990 a Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award , Ma Rainey s Black Bottom, and Joe Turner s Come and Gone.In 1994 Wilson left St Paul for Seattle, where he would develop a relationship with Seattle Repertory Theatre Seattle Rep would ultimately be the only theater in the country to produce all of the works in his ten play cycle and his one man show How I Learned What I Learned.Wilson was married three times His first marriage was to Brenda Burton from 1969 to 1972 They had one daughter, Sakina Ansari, born 1970 In 1981 he was married to Judy Oliver, a social worker, and divorced in 1990 Wilson s third marriage was in 1994 to costume designer, Constanza Romero, with whom he had his second daughter, Azula Carmen.In 2005, August Wilson received the Anisfield Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award.Wilson reported that he had been diagnosed with liver cancer in June 2005 and been given three to five months to live He died on October 2, 2005 at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, and was interred at Greenwood Cemetery, Pittsburgh on October 8, 2005.


    1. Jitney is play #8 in August Wilson's Century Cycle. Jitney tells the story of a group of men who run a cab service. Wilson focuses on their livelihood, their dreams, and their imperfections. I enjoyed the cast of characters as well as the monologues from a few of them. Although very minor I did like reading the references to characters in earlier plays. However, I felt the ending was a little lacking. Fences is still the best of the plays so far. Two more to go.

    2. August Wilson was a special treasure for the City of Pittsburgh. His crowning gem was probable "The Pittsburgh Cycle," a series of 10 plays, each set in a different decade, revealing life for African Americans in the City of Pittsburgh. Jitney is the story of Pittsburgh in the 1970's. Set in Pittsburgh's Hill District, during a period of Urban Renewal, Jitney service in Pittsburgh was very much a part of everyday life. It also provided a microcosm for August Wilson to explore personalities and s [...]

    3. Penumbra Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota, is celebrating its 40th Anniversary! The theater's founders imagined a theater for, by, and about the black community. It is only fitting that as part of its anniversary celebration, that they have chosen to produce August Wilson's, "Jitney," as Penumbra has a storied history with playwright, August Wilson. For instance, "Jitney" was first produced as a one-act at Penumbra in 1984 and has been produced twice since at Penumbra. Penumbra's "Bookends" progra [...]

    4. This is not my first foray into Wilson, but it is the start of a concerted effort to finish the Century Cycle. I'm tackling them in the order they were written. I wondered if this was the best way to go, but now I can't imagine starting anywhere but with Jitney. Like many plays, the physical universe of Jitney is tiny. It is confined to a single gypsy cab office, connected to the outside world through the characters' histories, calls from customers, and the appearance of Becker's son, Booster, h [...]

    5. Wellis is not the first time I have read this play, but I re-read it for the project I'm working on with my U.S. History class. I was an intern at Seattle Repertory Theater in 2001-2002, when I first read this play and encountered the man who wrote it. I got to spend some time with August Wilson during that time, and I had nothing but admiration for this particular play. I loved the choral nature of the dialogue and the complicated relationship between the father and son (Becker and Booster). I [...]

    6. This book gets 3.5/5 stars (too bad doesn't give 1/2 stars!). But anyway, as I continue to read the August Wilson Century Cycle books during this fake spring break, I realize that this man does not fail to keep his characters grounded and true to the African American societies of each decade. Jitney is a play focusing on gypsy cab drivers post- Vietnam War in Pittsburgh (1977). There are men of all ages ranging from the Elder Turnbo, whose memories of the military and war do not fail to falter. [...]

    7. This was the first August Wilson play I ever saw (in an unforgettable production at the Union Square Theatre) but I'd never read the script itself until now and it's just as wonderful on the page as on the stage. Wilson's gorgeous ensemble piece about car service drivers in Pittsburgh gifts each character with an arc and at least one lovely monologue; and the individual speeches can be like arias at times, an appropriate term given the operatic scope of "Jitney." There may be playwrights as good [...]

    8. OMG the last scene. I don't normally read drama, but I am starting to think I should read more! And of course this being a local play made it that much more interesting for me. Highly recommended!

    9. Jitney is a moving story of a group of men working in a taxi station. While many themes emerge, the ability to forgive is central. In exploring the lives of these men Wilson focuses on the impact of bitterness in shaping their lives. Despite several high impact moments it was difficult to become invested in the characters. Overall thought provoking reading.

    10. My Winter of Wilson, Entry 6 An underlying tension of Fences was the way that African-American fathers, despite their Herculean efforts to battle injustices and provide for their families, ultimately disappoint their sons. Jitney turns that tension around - what happens when a son, who's been given every advantage a father can provide, disappoints his father.Jitney is a riveting play, and all of the salient themes of surviving oppression from Wilson's other masterworks are here. And in Wilson's [...]

    11. Set in 1977, and first produced in 1982, Jitney is the most urban to date of Wilson’s Century Cycle plays. The southern roots of the characters are less visible and not referred to. Instead, they are all from Pittsburgh of different generations (Korean and Vietnam War veterans) and all but the youngest character and the girlfriend of another work for a cab company that is struggling to provide a living for its owner, Becker, and drivers. Urban decay is threatening to take the building they ope [...]

    12. Third of the August Wilson plays I've read, and the worst of the three. The drama focuses on the lives of several jitney drivers in 1977: one is a Vietnam Vet struggling to start a new life; another is an alcoholic; and the owner of the jitney station has a son who’s just been released from prison. Problem one is that none of the potential issues are probed deeply enough. They seem to be crafted on the potential for colorful characters (alcoholism, Vietnam War, prison), but don’t go beyond t [...]

    13. I am finally delving into the Century Cycle. I had a couple false starts, then read the play in 2 sittings. This play still speaks to Baltimore (it was performed at Center Stage in the late 1990s) and many cities in the US.Becker: "I just do the best I can do."Doub: "Sometime your best ain’t enough."Major themes: Seeing bigness, then realizing someone you idolize can be small. Racist city planning policies. False promises. Misogyny. That horrifying moment when a writer creates a character you [...]

    14. I've read eight of the ten plays in Wilson's Century Cycle and while this is most certainly a solid play, I must admit that this is his weakest. That being said, Wilson's "worst" is possibly much better than the average playwrights best work. For me the issue was not necessarily that the play was a bad play or a mediocre one (it was not) but that it simply was not as good as Wilson's other plays. I will conclude by admitting that this play may just be a play that is stronger when it is seen in i [...]

    15. With Jitney, I found a return to real richness of character that I felt was lacking in Two Trains Running. There's a kind of timelessness to the story and except for the references to different wars that the drivers are veterans of, you wouldn't feel like it was taking place in the '70s. But maybe that's part of what Wilson is painting here failing businesses and blocks closing down, where hitting the numbers is the only way to get ahead, at the cost of everyone else.Like Fences, the father-son [...]

    16. If literature is the best way to build our capacity for empathy, plays are probably the best medium for delivering an experience, even if the setting and circumstances are quite removed from one's own. One can read about racial and socio-economic inequality in the news, or learn about it through activism, and even participate in parades, but a play delivers the closest thing to taking a walk in someone's shoes.Review of the play: seeing it performed brings the emotionally charged lines alive (co [...]

    17. Probably one of my favorite August Wilson plays. It might be because I was born in the 70's, so I could relate. The only thing that kept this from being 5 stars is because I disliked the ending. I'm still processing and trying to figure out why Wilson went the route he did. An engaging story that examines everything from the effects of war in the black community to urban blight. A very interesting read!

    18. Jitney is a special read, spare and quiet in its power and grace. I loved seeing it performed many years ago at the Alley Theatre, and it really is a play about community and the service these jitneys provided to Pittsburgh in the 1970's. I think that it has a powerful ending of hope and rising up, and Wilson's prose always has an eloquence mixed with humor and love that astonishes.

    19. Set in the 1970s, a bunch of men of varying ages try to keep a beleaguered “car service” business afloat, skirting the edges of joblessness, criminality, treachery, drunkeness and legality. Mr. Wilson manages the precarious task of setting these men in a positive light, as products of their time, without making their predicament dated or insignificant.

    20. Like all of Wilson's plays, Jitney's power lies in its beautiful language. His characters are vibrant, real Pittsburghers who never fail to surprise. Jitney nearly broke my heart, but is redeemed in a hopeful final line, which is only two words long.

    21. This is the eighth play of Wilsons that I have read so far and it's probably one of my favorites. I am finding out that the endings of these plays are not what I would expect. I have two more plays to read to finish his circuit and am excited to see what will happen in those plays.

    22. The car shop will be boarded up by the city the first of the month . . . Becker plans to get a lawyer to keep it open, but needs to work a shift at the mill first. Youngblood is moving up, on to the suburbs. Booster realizes what a big man his father really was.

    23. I liked it when I read it, but I was wowed by it when I saw it recently at the Lillian Theater in LA. I was genuinely choked up by the ending and the characters really came alive in performance. I'm not sure it's a great play, but it's an extremely satisfying evening of theater.

    24. 1977 in Wilson's Century Cycle remembers the degradation of urban space for black Americans after the Civil Rights movement, though with less of the political urgency or dramatic surprise of the best plays in his major project.

    25. I am a fan of the theater and was first introduction to Wilson by my father with the stage production of Radio Golf. Since that day I have made it at priority to both read and see all of "The Pittsburgh Cycle".

    26. I saw this on stage in New York a few years ago (2000, I think.) The performance was shattering. While I have not read the play, I can't imagine that as a written piece it is any less effective than the production I witnessed.

    27. I read this for a playwriting class last spring. The only thing better than reading it was seeing it performed at Ford's Theater in DC.

    28. One should actually read ALL of August Wilson's plays, but this and King Hedley II (and Radio Golf) were my favorites. If you've never encountered Wilson before, this is a great place to start.

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