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Bookworm Blurbs

I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.

The Piano Lesson

The Piano Lesson - August Wilson

At the heart of the play stands the ornately carved upright piano which, as the Charles family's prized, hard-won possession, has been gathering dust in the parlor of Berniece Charles's Pittsburgh home. When Boy Willie, Berniece's exuberant brother, bursts into her life with his dream of buying the same Mississippi land that his family had worked as slaves, he plans to sell their antique piano for the hard cash he needs to stake his future. But Berniece refuses to sell, clinging to the piano as a reminder of the history that is their family legacy. This dilemma is the real "piano lesson," reminding us that blacks are often deprived both of the symbols of their past and of opportunity in the present. (source)


This semester I'm taking a course on multicultural resources in libraries. While the course focuses on multicultural resources in general, there's a heavy emphasis on multiculturalism in Pittsburgh, since that's where my school is based. Because of this, my professor assigned two plays by August Wilson for us to read prior to the start of class. August Wilson is known for writing plays about the African American experience in Pittsburgh, and as a current resident of Pittsburgh, I found this more interesting than I ordinarily would (which would have been pretty interesting, regardless). 


I think that I would have appreciated this play much more if I had been able to watch it rather than read it, which is true of most plays, in my opinion. After all, plays are meant to be viewed, not read. I think that parts of this would have been rather humorous to watch, more so than they are to read. Wilson does a great job of incorporating both humor and serious messages into his work, and he definitely includes a great deal of commentary on the African American experience, using the family piano as a metaphor. I thought this was very creative and well-done. 


That being said, the bickering between Boy Willie and Berniece definitely got old. I really think that it could've been cut in half and still have achieved the desired effect. As it was, I found myself skimming over their fight scenes. They fought mainly over the same topic - the piano - and their arguments for/against selling it never changed or developed further over the course of the play, though the intensity did increase, particularly toward the end. Perhaps if I had been watching the play I wouldn't have been as bored of this, but while reading, I eventually found it to be monotonous. 


If you're interested in plays about diversity or the African American experience, I would recommend either seeing or reading this play - preferably seeing it, though I myself have not yet done so. It is definitely well-written, though, and I think that it's worth the time it takes to read. This is one of the few works that my professor assigned that's meant for an adult audience, and I think that she chose well!