Explore the life and legacy of playwright August Wilson (April 27, 1945 – October 2, 2005), the man some call America’s Shakespeare, from his roots as an activist and poet to his indelible mark on Broadway. Film and theater luminaries including Viola Davis, Charles Dutton, Laurence Fishburne, James Earl Jones, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Phylicia Rashad share their stories of the career- and life-changing experience of bringing Wilson’s rich theatrical voice to the stage.

With unprecedented access to Wilson’s theatrical archives, rarely seen interviews and new dramatic readings, filmmaker Sam Pollard (Slavery by Another Name) brings to life Wilson’s seminal 10-play cycle chronicling each decade of the 20th-century African-American experience, including the Tony- and Pulitzer-winning Fences and Pulitzer-winning The Piano Lesson. Family, friends, colleagues, and scholars trace Wilson’s influences, creative evolution, triumphs, struggles, and quest for cultural determinism before his untimely death from liver cancer.


“The Ground On Which I Stand” is a sincere look at the rich life of August Wilson. There are only two playwrights that could be called America’s greatest: Arthur Miller and August Wilson. This documentary goes out of its way to show you why Wilson is one of the greatest. I hadn’t seen most of the interviews and archival footage before now. It just makes me wish that we could’ve had a longer look. The man worked for decades and covered so much ground.

August Wilson’s 10 play cycle about African American life in the 20th Century will never be topped. That being said, I wanted more background than praise. “Fences” gets so much coverage, but the other plays tend to get skimmed. Well, “The Piano Lesson” is starting to get a second glance by scholars. I’ve now gone full theater nerd.

The DVD comes with bonus videos and an interview as the special features. The A/V Quality is on par for most recent standard definition PBS documentary releases. The transfer isn’t amazing, but it works. The same goes for the Dolby 2.0 audio track. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase.

RELEASE DATE: 02/17/2015

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