Skip to Main Content

The Piano Lesson by August Wilson

This play is awesome.

An open book, eyeglasses, and a cup of coffee.
Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

New York: Plume, 1990.

This play is awesome. I wish I had to read it back in my college Theatre History courses, and since I didn’t, I’m glad to have read it now.

The Piano Lesson depicts a black family’s struggle over what to do with an intricately crafted piano, a haunted symbol of their heritage. The play is well-crafted and features interesting characters, a well-paced plot, accessible language, and that enjoyable pseudo-realism of the best theatre (think Death of a Salesman and Our Town). It’s good drama; just go read/watch it.

I really do wish that I had read this while taking Theatre History. In that sequence, we read two plays firmly rooted in the African-American experience: Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls and George C. Wolfe’s The Colored Museum. I like both of them, but both plays are very abstract/expressionistic. The Piano Lesson feels like a good realist counter-weight to those two works.