It would be easy for a director to lose control of the titanic forces simmering underneath the surface of the play, but Santiago-Hudson keeps them under control until the end, when they simply cannot be constrained. Presented by Signature Theatre Company at the Irene Diamond Stage at the Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 W. August Wilson’s 1990 Pulitzer Prize winning The Piano Lesson is a brilliant drama filled with richly developed realistic characters that represent the African-American experience in the USA circa 1936 in Pittsburgh, PA.
Boy Willie wants to break from  the past by forging a new life through the freedom of land ownership.  Playwright August Wilson vividly weaves the myth and folklore of the South including the belief in spirits and ghosts. See this show and discover the roots of a unique part of the American Experience as remembered by a family that suffered in slavery.
New Feature–Spoken ReviewsWith improved "text-to-speech technology," we are experimenting with audio versions of our reviews. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson returns to Yale Rep, where it had its world premiere in 1987. The Piano Lesson was one of six plays in August Wilson’s 10-play cycle chronicling the African American experience in the 20th century to premiere at Yale Rep. Some of Boy Willie’s convulsions in his final struggle are a bit over the top, and the special effects in the climactic scene are underwhelming.


This play is a part of the ten-cycle work each by Wilson covering each decade in the 20th Century. We also see the influence of music, drinking and philandering by some African-American men through the exploits of Wining Boy (Alfred H.
An ornately carved upright piano sits in the home of Berniece Charles, who plans to pass it along to her daughter.
Director Liesl Tommy made her Yale Rep debut with the critically-acclaimed production of Eclipsed in 2009. Boy Willie wants to sell it so that he can buy back land in Mississippi, but Berniece refuses to let the piano go even though she never plays it. The action reaches a thundering climax during a ritual of purification that shakes both the house and the family to its foundations. Dutton brought to the role of Boy Willie in the play’s original 1990 production, he more than makes up for it with vitality and sincerity.
But these are only slight blemishes on a powerful production that does justice to Wilson’s profound writing and deserves a longer life on Broadway.
August Wilson uses naturalistic dialogue rich in Southern idioms and slave folklore to tell his stories.


But her brother, Boy Willie, has another plan for the prized, hard-won heirloom: to sell it for the hard cash to buy the same Mississippi land that their family once worked as slaves.
Berniece and her brother have been at odds since her husband died in a botched lumber theft that was instigated by Boy Willie. August Wilson’s was an American treasure and The Piano Lesson is a master work of theatrical art. The Piano Lesson is the intimate story of a brother and sister and their struggle to embrace or deny their epic inheritance. However, Ronald Conner’s spirited, gregarious and sincere portrait of Boy Willie anchors the show.




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