Seven Guitars

Seven Guitars

by August Wilson


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Seven Guitars by August Wilson

Full Length, Tragic comedy

Characters: 4 male, 3 female

Exterior Set

The sixth in the author's decade by decade exploration of the black experience in America, two of which have won Pulitzer Prizes, Seven Guitars is part bawdy comedy, part dark elegy and part mystery. In the backyard of a Pittsburgh tenement in 1948, friends gather to mourn for a blues guitarist and singer who died just as his career was on the verge of taking off. The action that follows is a flashback to the busy week leading up to Floyd's sudden and unnatural death.

"Displays a narrative sweep and almost biblical richness of language and character.... Mr. Wilson writes so vividly that the play seems to have the narrative scope and depth of a novel."-The New York Times.

"Impressive ... with wild, untamed elements of symbolic fantasy, and the language ... is used with the specific riff like fluency and emotional impact of jazz."-New York Post.

Winner of the N.Y. Drama Critics Award for Best Play.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780573696008
Publisher: Samuel French, Incorporated
Publication date: 01/04/2011
Pages: 126
Sales rank: 657,762
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.27(d)

About the Author

August Wilson was a major American playwright whose work has been consistently acclaimed as among the finest of the American theater. His first play, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for best new play of 1984-85. His second play, Fences, won numerous awards for best play of the year, 1987, including the Tony Award, the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, the Drama Desk Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. Joe Turner's Come and Gone, his third play, was voted best play of 1987-1988 by the New York Drama Critics' Circle. In 1990, Wilson was awarded his second Pulitzer Prize for The Piano Lesson. He died in 2005.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"The seven guitars of the title are the seven characters whose straightforward story lines Wilson turns into beautiful, complex music—a funky wailing, irresistible Chicago blues."
—John Lahr, The New Yorker

"Riveting. . . . Wilson's mastery of time and character has never been more apparent."
Boston Globe

"A play whose epic proportions and abundant spirit remind us of what the American theater once was. . . . As funny as it is moving and lyrical."
—Vincent Canby, New York Times

"August Wilson is a remarkable American playwright. Seven Guitars is a formidably impressive tragi-comedy. This writing is as like and unlike Arthur Miller, as Duke Ellinton is as like and unlike Igor Stravinsky."
—Clive Barnes, New York Post

"Full of quiet truth . . . mesmerizing . . . a major voice in our theater . . . unusually powerful."
—Howard Kissel, New York Daily News

"A gritty, lyrical polyphony of voices that evokes the character and destiny of men and women who can't help singing the blues even when they're just talking. Bristles with symbolism, with rituals of word and action that explode into anguished eloquence and finally into violence."
—Jack Kroll, Newsweek

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Seven Guitars 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved August Wilson's Seven Guitars. It is a great illustration of black life in America. It was also my first time actually completing reading one of August Wilson's dramas. I had been hearing a lot a about and how a lot of praise was heaped upon him. As i read this play i found out why! Peep this: the play begins with the characters coming home from the funeral of Floyd 'Schoolboy' Barton, who was an up-and-coming blues singer and musician who was murdered (we will later find out that one of the characters killed him over some money). The play then goes back in time to the events leading up to the murder. We meet Floyd Barton and learn more about him. We are also introduced to the characters of Vera, his girlfriend, whom he left to go off with another woman named Pearl Brown when he went to Chicago to record his song 'That's Alright' which became a hit Red Carter and Canewell, two members of his band Hedley, a mentally impaired man who dreams of being a 'big man' Louise, the landlady and sort of 'big sister' figure to Vera who warns her of taking Floyd back, and Ruby, Louise's promiscuous 24-going on 25-year old niece who is a few weeks pregnant whom all the men take an immediate liking to--or more over, lust after. When we first meet Floyd, he is in talks with music producers about recording another song after the success of 'That's Alright.' He wants to mend the relationship he had with Vera and wants her to go with him to Chicago, but Vera is having doubts about his motives, whether he is coming back to her because Pearl left him or whether he really wants her back. He also has to convince both his bandmembers, Red Carter, who carries a gun, and Canewell, who carries a knife, to come with him to make the record, but they are having second thoughts as well. Floyd, like many black men in today, being how the play still resonates today as it did 12 years ago, feels like he has stalemated in life and that every where he tries to go, every positive step he tries to make, there is somebody blocking him from making that move that he feels is necessary and at some point he says that he is tired of it and he is going to get those people out of the way, even if he has to kill someone (irony, isn't it?). We also go on to find out that Hedley is a man who seeks forgiveness from his father for 'talking back' to him if you will. (Hint: Watch for the scene in which Hedley slices the rooster's throat the rooster is symbol of the black man.) The characters, while in the backyard of Louise's boardinghouse, will talk and argue about everything to whether Jesus bringing Lazarus back was a good thing (Hedley the affirmative and Canewell the negative, stating that Lazarus was free when he died and to come back from the dead he would have to come back and live this harsh life again) to whether a knife is better than a gun (Canewell says a knife will never go out of style). Like The Known World by Edward P. Jones, I didn't have a favorite character because I feel that everybody had a brilliantly developed story. I also loved the very simple and natural language of the characters. A very interesting and shocking parable on the plight of the black man.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great Book. Now how about the complete works of this great playwright. I'll be waiting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago