The nation’s oldest non-profit workshop “dedicated to the development of new playwrights” will honor Wilson with its 2003 Lifetime Achievement Award at a ceremony held at the New York Marriott Marquis.
Wilson is represented on Broadway this season with the revival of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, a powerful account of a blues singer and the effect racism has on her life and career. Academy Award winner Whoopi Goldberg, who stars as Ma Rainey, will present Wilson with his award. Charles S. Dutton, who co-stars with Goldberg, and Man of La Mancha’s Brian Stokes Mitchell, who starred in Wilson’s King Hedley II, will offer tributes. Ben Mordecai, who has produced all of August Wilson’s New York productions, and former news anchor Walter Cronkite are the event’s honorary chairs.
The annual luncheon salutes an artist who has made an “outstanding artistic contribution to the American theatre. Past honorees include Barbara Cook, Angela Lansbury, Julie Andrews, Glenn Close, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Neil Simon, Jerry Herman, Stephen Sondheim, Gwen Verdon, Terrence McNally and Arthur Miller.
Born in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, August Wilson’s plays include Jitney, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Fences, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running, Seven Guitars and King Hedley II. These works explore the African-American heritage and experience over the course of the twentieth century. Wilson received the Pulitzer Prize for Fences and The Piano Lesson as well as a Tony Award for Fences. Additionally, his plays have garnered seven New York Drama Critics Circle Awards and an Olivier Award for Jitney. Wilson is an alumnus of New Dramatists and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The 54th Annual Benefit Luncheon will be held in the Broadway Ballroom of the New York Marriott Marquis, located in New York at 1535 Broadway. The champagne reception begins at 11:15 AM, and the proceedings will end at 2:30 PM. Tickets, priced at $200, are available by calling (212) 757-6960.
Founded in 1949 by Michaela O’Harra in association with Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Moss Hart, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, New Dramatists has fostered the works of Paula Vogel, August Wilson, William Inge, Paddy Chayefsky, John Guare, John Patrick Shanley, Emily Mann and Suzan-Lori Parks. New Dramatists was the recipient of a special Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre in 2001, and its playwrights have garnered 11 Pulitzers, 22 Tony Awards, 52 Obie Awards and 17 New York Drama Critics Circle Awards.