Set in Pittsburgh, Stories for All Americans

February 19, 2015
Playwright August Wilson.
Photo caption

Playwright August Wilson.

Courtesy, The Estate of August Wilson

August Wilson (1945-2005) is the subject of a new NEH-funded documentary. August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand explores the life and legacy of the acclaimed American writer.

A production of August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.
Photo caption

A production of August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

Courtesy, The Yale Repertory Theatre

A Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning playwright, Wilson is best known for his ten-play cycle chronicling each decade of the African American experience in the twentieth century. August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand features rare clips from these productions and new dramatic readings filmed for the documentary.


August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand begins in Pittsburgh, where Wilson grew up in poverty. He dropped out of high school and educated himself in the city’s public libraries. The documentary follows Wilson’s career in the theater, including his early work in Minnesota and his long creative partnership with director Lloyd Richards, who collaborated with Wilson on nine original Broadway productions.


In chronicling Wilson’s artistic evolution, director Sam Pollard employs rare archival footage and interviews with Wilson and those who knew him. He also incorporates new, candid interviews with Viola Davis, Charles Dutton, Laurence Fishburne, and other prominent actors who have performed in Wilson’s plays.


The two-hour documentary premiers on PBS’s American Masters series on February 20, 2015. Check local listings for broadcast time.


August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand is a co-production of WQED Pittsburgh and American Masters for WNET.

Funding information

WQED Multimedia received a Production grant for the documentary.