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Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

August Wilson

  • Series: In Black and White
  • Rating: ***
  • Audience: High School to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $149.00
  • Date: Copyright 1992. Released 1992.
  • Descriptors: Playwrights. Wilson, August (interview). Black authors. American drama.
  • Production Information: Live action, Archival footage, Stills. Directed by Matteo Bellinelli. Color, b&w. Also available in 3/4 inch. Stereo. 22 min.
  • Production Company: RTSI (Switzerland) California Newsreel
  • Available from: California Newsreel 149 9th St., #420 San Francisco, CA 94103 (415)621-6196
  • Cataloging: 812.54 Wilson, August||Afro-American dramatists - Interviews||Dramatists, American - Interviews
  • Print Entry #: 4:1040
  • Reviewer: Paula C. Murphy

    This combination of live action and historical film and photographs is an interview with celebrated African-American playwright August Wilson. The conversation with Wilson is done on the stage of his play Two Trains Running by an unidentified interviewer. It begins with Wilson describing this play in the historical context of African-American history. He then discusses how his Pittsburgh ghetto background influenced his work, how African-American language holds unique oral traditions and interpretations, and how blues music and the black Southern cultural tradition are important subjects for him to explore in his plays. This patchwork of comments is woven together by introductory narration between each sequence that describes Wilson's life and philosophy.

    The technical quality of this work is excellent. Often interviews of this kind can become boring talking heads offering no visual variety or creativity. This video is far from this. While employing sensitively chosen still and moving images that describe the narrator's remarks, it uses superimposition and other well-executed special effects to enhance the visual portions of Wilson's statements. The sound is clear and professionally finished, especially in the portion that includes two old blues songs. The woman narrator's presentation is polished, and Wilson's personality is well depicted. Finally, the opening and closing credits for the series are also worthy of note for their artistry and cleverness.

    August Wilson is an excellent video for public, college and university, and school library collections that serve high school to adult users. Because Wilson is a major figure in contemporary American theatrical literature, this interview, although brief, is an important primary source for those interested in African-American studies, American literature, and theater. Highly recommended.

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