August Wilson, Theater's Poet of Black America, Dies
August Wilson, who chronicled the African-American experience in the 20th century in a series of plays that will stand as a landmark in the history of black culture, of American literature and of Broadway theater, died yesterday at a hospital in Seattle. He was 60 and lived in Seattle.
The cause was liver cancer, said his assistant, Dena Levitin. Mr. Wilson's cancer was diagnosed in the summer, and his illness was made public last month.
"Radio Golf," the last of the 10 plays that constitute Mr. Wilson's majestic theatrical cycle, opened at the Yale Repertory Theater last spring and has subsequently been produced in Los Angeles. It was the concluding chapter in a spellbinding story that began more than two decades ago, when Mr. Wilson's play "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" had its debut at the same theater, in 1984, and announced the arrival of a major talent, fully matured.
Reviewing the play's Broadway premiere for The New York Times, Frank Rich wrote that in "Ma Rainey," Mr. Wilson "sends the entire history of black America crashing down upon our heads."
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