The Piano Lesson
"Berniece ain't gonna sell that piano.".
Set in Pittsburgh, this haunted story of the history behind and conflict over a 137 year old ornately carved upright piano has everything I love in a drama. Unforgettable characters with animated humorous voices, the presence of a determined spirited visitor, and a storyline that takes the reader places you didn't expect to go into the past.
"Berniece ain't gonna sell that piano."
How in the world did a 350 pound man fall down his well? How did...more
The Piano Lesson was my first foray into Wilson, and the only one I've been lucky enough to see performed (twice, both brilliantly, once in Washington DC and once at Yale Rep). Wilson is a master ...more
The Piano Lesson is the fourth play in August Wilson's ten play Century Cycle about African-American life in the 20th Century. Boy Willie wants to sell a piano that he and his sister, Bernice, inherited. Their ancestor, a slave master craftsman, constructed the piano and carved scenes and people from their family history into the piano legs. Bernice does not want to sell this family trea ...more
A short and sweet play about a family feud over a family piano. My brother recommended this book to me. My brother is really interested in chemistry, and doesn't like to read; so when he recommends something, I check it out.
The characters are well-developed, and their motivations and desires are well-presented and played out. The introductions were interesting, and the story progressed at a solid pace as the tension slowly increased. By the climax, the passive aggressive behavior of th ...more
Wilson began writing this play by playing with the various answers regarding the possibility of “acquir[ing] a sense of self-worth by denying one's past”. However, on finishing his play, Wilson found the ending to stray from the empowered Berniece as well as from the question regarding self-worth. What The Piano Lesson finall ...more
Set in 1936, it tells the story of Berniece, a widow and single mother still grieving the tragic death of her husband several years earlier, and her younger brother "Boy Willie," an energetic, ambitious entrepreneur who returns from the South to show up on the doorstep of their Uncle's Pittsburgh home early one morning.
Boy Willie want ...more
I will s ...more
The piano becomes focal point that drives the conversation between siblings about civil war, slavery, family history and remembering injustices of the past.
I've read a lot of books that make no sense or left me thinking, WHAT THE FUDGE? or were simply pointless, but this play was just POINTLESS. A Big-Foot-DOES-Exist kind of pointless (because he doesn't exist, if you get what I mean). Yes, the story was ...more
His cycle of plays covers different decades in the African-American experience in Pittsburgh. The Piano Lesson is set in the 1930s, when many blacks knew people who either had been born into slavery or who could remember slave members of the family, and that forms one of the elements in this gripping saga.
At the heart of the play is a richly carved piano that becomes the subject of a family dispute. It ...more
Reading The Piano Lesson was a joyful experience for me because the characters were so immediately engaging. Wilson has a way of introducing his characters that feels (to me) quick and familiar BUT also compelling and mysterious. I found myself leaning into the book to learn more about the characters as the drama unfurled.
I nev ...more
I continue my backward trajectory through August Wilson's Century Cycle with The Piano Lesson. If I had to based what I thought this play would be about solely on its title, I probably would have said this would be the most innocuous of his Cycle thus far. I would be wrong; way off the map and with good reason too.
The Piano Lesson takes place in 1936. On its surface, it's about a brother sister conflict. Little brother Boy Willie wants to sell of the family piano so ...more
Speaking of the play (and a lot of this comes off far better in the theatrical version), the characters are amazing. The history of the characters and how it has defined them, their loves and their hates, their flaws and their tal ...more
As of this writing, out of the four Wilson plays that I have read I still th ...more
The history of the piano is steeped in violence - “thieving and killing, thieving and killing,” - and it is the legacy of all that bloodshed that makes the piano so valuable, either as a treasured keepsake or as an item for sale.
The ending adds fuel to the fire, as the climatic finale binds the entire narrative.
Wilson was born Frederick August Kittel, Jr. in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the fourth ...more
Other books in the series
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-Twenty-seven years. Now, I'll tell you something about the railroad. What I done learned after twenty-seven years. See, you got North. You got West. You look over here you got South. Over there you got East. Now, you can start from anywhere. Don't care where you at. You got to go one of the four ways. And which way you decide to go, they got a railroad that will take you there. Now that's something simple. You think anybody would be able to understand that. But you'd be surprised how many people trying to go North get on a train going West. They think train's supposed to go where they going rather than where it's going.”