By Sharon Eberson
The August Wilson African American Cultural Center will unveil the long-awaited permanent exhibition dedicated to its namesake with an invitation-only ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1 p.m. on April 15. The free exhibition, August Wilson: A Writer’s Landscape, opens to the public the following day.
On April 15, speakers will include the late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright’s widow, Constanza Romero-Wilson. She is executive director of the August Wilson Legacy LLC and chief curator of the exhibition. Longtime Wilson collaborators, including award-winning actor-director Ruben Santiago-Hudson, will attend. A proclamation will be issued declaring it August Wilson: The Writer’s Landscape Exhibition Day in the City of Pittsburgh.
The 3,600-square-foot exhibition includes interactive, multi-sensory displays, artifacts from Wilson’s Estate, and re-creations of ephemera reflecting Hill District native Wilson’s roots and the people and places that played a role in his American Century Cycle of plays. August Wilson: A Writer’s Landscape was conceived and written by Romero-Wilson as an experience that unfolds in three acts:
• The Coffee Shop – Inspired by a coffee shop in the Hill District, where a young Wilson observed the day-to-day interactions of its diners. This would provide the basis for many of his characters and the inspiration for his stories. Visitors will be able to sit at the diner’s lunch counter and immerse themselves in Wilson’s world, from the sounds of the diner to newspapers and magazines from the 1960s that Wilson himself may have read.
• The Office – A replica of Wilson’s home office, showcasing his working environment and his prized items, including his own writing desk. With projected interactive images that allow visitors to learn more about his creative process, along with music from his personal record collection and manuscripts of his work.
• The Street – A symbolic walk through Wilson’s The American Century Cycle, featuring a gallery dedicated to each of Wilson’s 10 plays, utilizing video, props, and costumes from notable
productions of his work.
Collection highlights donated by Romero-Wilson include:
• Wilson’s personal writing desk, one of his most prized possessions dating back to the 1920s.
• Rock Ola 1448, a 1956 jukebox featured in the 1990 Broadway production of “Two Trains Running.”
• 1940s RCA Radio, featured in the 1996 Broadway production of Seven Guitars.
• Prop masks featured in the Broadway production of Gem of the Ocean in 2004.
To register for free timed tickets starting April 11, visit awaacc.org.