The spring 2021 study group at OLLI-AU gets underway the first week of March, Thursday at 0945. This year we are returning to the original order of the plays, a nod to my inner archivist, the order in which the ten plays were written, beginning with Jitney. I’ve given this some thought, but not too much. At the beginning, back in 2017, we did the original order to see Wilson’s development as a playwright. I found that thinking to be pretty shallow; surely he was an expert at his craft when he cranked out the very first one, so just what was it we were tracking? In the next three sessions I thought it might make some sense to do the plays chronologically, by decade. But really, how much sense did that make? It’s not a history class after all, it’s a literature class. And decades are an arbitrary measure of the passage of time anyway. Nothing really special about it.
I dare say I am looking forward to it. Again. We will be meeting weekly by Zoom, like last time, but last time we actually met face to face for the first two meetings, before the lockdown broke our world. This time it will begin and end by Zoom and everybody knows what they are getting into. I have both Jitney and Ma Rainey texts available by pdf, and in addition this year I have the screenplay script of Ma Rainey to distribute if folks want to compare the stage to the film production. Ma Rainey will be fresh on everybody’s radar with the film and the upcoming Academy Awards. That will be fun.
My personal focus this year will be to look at August Wilson in the classical tradition, a perspective I think best showcases his immense talent. Yes, August Wilson as a dead white man, some may accuse, but that is exactly where I’d like to try to go. And of course Wilson as an archivist, a preserver of records and a purveyor of speech patterns of a special people on a special journey. Yep. Going there. The associated readings and the weekly playlists will groove closely. And with a liberal sprinkling of Deleuze and Quattari to spice things up.
OK. Stay tuned. I’ll be posting weekly until the actual journey begins in early March. Bon Voyage!
p.s. a sneak peak at the youtube playlist for Wilson’s 4 B’s.