Theater: Exorcising The Demons of Memory

August Wilson exults in the blues and etches slavery's legacy

August Wilson was only 15 when he stormed out of school forever. After quitting a Roman Catholic academy, where white pupils harassed him because he was black, and then a vocational program he considered academically worthless, he made one last try at a public high school. But when he proudly submitted a 20-page report on Napoleon, the teacher accused him of having it ghostwritten by an older sister. That confrontation ended with Wilson defiantly shredding the essay. "The next day," he recalls, "I went and played basketball outside the principal's window, obviously in the unconscious hope someone would ask why I...

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