(Neil Genzlinger’s article appeared in The New York Times, 2/19; via Pam Green.)
August Wilson died almost 10 years now, but that doesn’t stop him from giving a mini-master class Friday on — appropriately — PBS’s latest episode of “American Masters.” In archival footage, we hear him describe his writing process.
“Generally,” he says, “I start with a line of dialogue, and often I don’t know who’s talking or why they’re talking. And then I will give the character a name, and by probing him and questioning him, I begin to find out things I need to know about the character, and out of that will emerge a story.”
What makes this a particularly satisfying “American Masters,” especially for theater lovers, is its generous helping of clips of well-regarded actors like Phylicia Rashad and Roscoe Orman performing excerpts from Wilson’s plays. Having heard his description of how his characters start out, we now get to see their fully formed selves.