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This resource is designed to facilitate classroom discussion on August Wilson's play, The Piano Lesson.
· Brief background – August Wilson & The Piano Lesson
· Study Questions for Act I
· Side-Bar: Excerpt from an Interview with August Wilson
· Study Questions for Act I Continued
· Study Questions for Act II
· Activity: Student Generated Discussion Questions
· Side-Bar: Exerpt from an Interview with August Wilson
· Study Questions Continued
· Supplementary Reflection Questions
· “August Wilson: Politics & Tradition” – a brief essay on Wilson’s Century Cycle project and the social politics of his work
Notes on the contents:
Some brief background information is included to offer a context for reading and understanding the play as part of Wilson's larger Century Cycle project (wherein he wrote one play for each decade of the 20th century). An essay is also included to examine and explain some ways to understand this project and what it means to American letters.
The main thrust of this resource, however, is aimed at generating an clear understanding of the play's characters, conflicts and themes.
In addition to 20 questions for discussion ranging from a focus on plot to interpretations of symbols and themes in the play, there is also a discussion activity that asks students to generate their own questions in small groups and use those as the basis for a session of class discussion. (My classes have really enjoyed this activity and it gives students a low-stakes chance to demonstrate their literary analysis chops.)
The materials are formatted for use on a classroom projector, but the whole resource can also be shared with students for use as a supplementary study guide.