Tag Archives: The Ground on Which I Stand

2 decades later scholars to assess August Wilson’s shocking ‘race’ speech

Twenty years after August Wilson delivered a keynote speech some thought attacked the white theater community, McCarter Theatre and Princeton University will hold a symposium in the place where it all happened. (PHOTO: Courtesy of PBS)
Twenty years after August Wilson delivered a keynote speech some thought attacked the white theater community, McCarter Theatre and Princeton University will hold a symposium in the place where it all happened. (PHOTO: Courtesy of PBS)

Twenty years ago, at the 1996 Theatre Communications Group (TCG) annual conference at McCarter Theatre Center, Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning playwright August Wilson delivered the event’s keynote address and blew the lid off the place.

I was there covering the three-day event for the Asbury Park Press as it’s Theater Writer.

“The Ground on Which I Stand” was simultaneously cheered and booed.  I couldn’t believe the gamut of emotions from outrage to shouts of encouragement, people walking out and others nodding heads in agreement and applauding. The reactions to the speech which addressed  questions of race, diversity, and cultural identity in the American Theater broke down along racial lines.

To honor the 20th anniversary of this watershed moment, McCarter Theatre Center and Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts will host a free symposium  Monday, April 18 from 1-5 p.m. at McCarter Theatre Center.

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