“Blues is a musical form and genre that
originated in African-American
communities in the "Deep South" of the
United States around the end of the
19th century” (“Blues”).
Came “from spirituals, work songs, field
hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed
simple narrative ballads” (“Blues”).
WHAT ARE THE BLUES?
Storytelling through music
The foundation for rock & roll, hip-
hop, country, and other genres.
WHAT ARE THE BLUES?
Complete the reading of “What Is
The Blues?” with a partner.
Be ready to share your thoughts with
& THE BLUES
“One of [Wilson’s] triumphs of invention
was how he used the blues. A music
mostly relegated [(dismissed)] to the
national past forms the emotional
underpinning for many of his plays”
What does this say about how Wilson
uses the blues?
“‘The music is a specific cultural response of
black America to the world, the circumstances
and the situation in which they’ve found
themselves,’ said Wilson” (Ross).
“‘I create worlds out of the ideas and the
attitudes and the material in the blues. I think
the blues are the best literature that blacks
have. It is an expression of our people and our
response to the world. I don't write about the
blues; I'm not influenced by the blues. I am
What does this mean?
“On the surface very little seems to happen in a Wilson play,
which has led many people to conclude that he is not much
concerned about plot. But anyone who listens carefully soon
realizes that so much is happening, as emotions, ideas,
philosophies, outlooks and beliefs tumble forth.
“‘I get it all the time, that I don't care about plot," Wilson says.
"That's not correct. The language and conversation are the plot.
Some people say my plays are formless. But my plays could not
exist, could not work, if they were not plotted. If you are looking
for a certain kind of play, then what I write is not a 'real' play. But
that's based on what you understand a play to be. I'm sure
Picasso came up against the same thing. People looked at his
work and said, 'What is that? That's not really art.' It depends on
where you're coming from and what your responses are. The
conventional play moves along from plot point to plot point. In my
plays the plot points are buried in the language, in the
development of the characters. But they have to be there;
otherwise you'd never arrive at the end’” (Flatow).
WILSON DEFENDS HIMSELF
What’s important about Wilson’s use
of language in his plays?
Wilson was inspired by the blues,
which is a form of music that tells
stories of (African American) human
Wilson feels language is the most
important part of his plays.
His characters’ dialogue develop the
stories in his plays.
"Blues." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 21
Apr. 2014. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.
Flatow, Sheryl. "August Wilson and the Power
of Blues - Playbill.com." August Wilson and
the Power of Blues - Playbill.com. N.p., 22
Mar. 1996. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.
Ross, Michael E. "August Wilson’s Century in
Blacks and Blues." Msnbc.com. NBCNews, 2
Oct. 2005. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.