Book Notes: August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson

[This is a play I read for my online book club. It’s a Twitter book club for a small group of teachers from all over the world who love Great Books. We come together to talk about what constitutes a canon and read canonical books. If you are a teacher and are interested, email me and I’ll hook you up with a .pdf of the play and the instructions on how to join.]

I never heard about August Wilson before this club. But I’m really glad I now know this great writer. The Piano Lesson premiered at Yale Rep in 1987 with Samuel L. Jackson in the leading male role. In 1990, it opened on Broadway with S. Epatha Merkerson (later of Law & Order fame) in the leading female part. I don’t think Jackson and Merkerson ever came together in this play but I imagined both of them when I was reading and that really enhanced the experience. I now found out there’s a movie with Courtney B. Vance (who I think is an artistic genius) starring as Lymon, so I will definitely be watching it.

The play is brilliant, friends. I was reading it at the hairdresser’s and almost started bawling right in the chair. A brilliant, brilliant play. I now want to drop everything and go to a theater. Good thing theaters are closed, I guess.

Highly recommended.