January 22, Updated:
A year-old, upright piano, decorated with totems in the manner of African sculpture, dominates the parlor. The play opens at dawn.
Boy Willie, Doaker's nephew, knocks at the door and enters with his partner, Lymon. Two have come from Mississippi to sell watermelons.
Willie has not seen his sister Berniece, who lives with Doaker, for three years as he has been serving a sentence on the Parchman Prison Farm. Willie asks his uncle for a celebratory drink: Willie intends to sell the family piano and use the money to buy Sutter's land, the land his ancestors once worked as slaves.
Doaker, however, is sure Berniece will not part with the piano. Indeed, Avery Brown—a preacher who has been courting Berniece since her husband Crawley died—has already tried to get her to sell it.
Willie schemes to get in touch with the prospective buyer himself. Suddenly Berniece cries out off-stage, "Go on get away.
She is convinced that her brother pushed Sutter into the well. Shaken, she refuses to cooperate with his plans. Three days later, Doaker's brother Wining Boy, a wandering, washed-up recording star, sits at the kitchen table discussing the recent events with the men. Willie explains that some whites had tried to chase Willie, Lymon, and Berniece's husband Crawley from some wood they were pilfering.
Crawley fought back and was killed while the other two went to prison. The men reminisce about Parchman and sing an old work song.
Doaker then explains the piano's history to Lymon. During slavery, a man named Robert Sutter, the recently deceased-Sutter's grandfather, owned the Charles family. He wanted to make an anniversary present out of his friend's piano but could not afford it.
Thus he traded a full and half grown slave—Doaker's grandmother Berniece and his father—for the instrument. Though initially Sutter's wife loved the piano, she eventually came to miss her slaves, falling desperately ill.
So, Sutter asked Doaker's grandfather, Willie Boy, to carve the faces of his wife and child into the piano. Willie Boy did not only carve his immediately family, however, but included his mother, father, and various scenes from the family history. Years after slavery, Berniece and Boy Willie's father, Boy Charles, developed an obsession over the piano, believing that as long as the Sutters held it, they held the family in bondage.
Thus, on July 4,he, Doaker, and Wining Boy stole it. Later that day, lynchers set Boy Charles's house on fire. He fled to catch the Yellow Dog, but the mob stopped the train and set his boxcar on fire.
Boy Charles died along with the hobos in his car, all of whom became the ghosts of the railroad. Once Doaker has finished his story, Willie and Lymon attempt to move the piano.Willie and Lymon begin to move the piano.
Berniece exits and reappears with Crawley's gun. Suddenly a drunken Wining Boy enters, comically breaking the tension of the scene. He sits down to play a song he wrote in memory of his wife, shielding the piano from Willie. A knock at the door follows, and Grace enters.
Florida’s Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe production of the Great Migration parable is the latest in a welcome flood of Wilson’s works.
Get ready to write your paper on The Piano Lesson with our suggested essay topics, sample essays, and more. "You will only find in the Jews an ignorant and barbarous people, who for a long time have joined the most sordid avarice to the most detestable superstition and to the most invincible hatred of all peoples which tolerate and enrich them.".
The Piano Lesson by August Wilson. Home / Literature / The Piano Lesson / The play becomes something of a ghost story when the ghost of Sutter appears to Berniece, calling Boy Willie's name. As the act progresses, Doaker tells the story of the piano and we learn why Berniece is so attached to it.
The family history was carved into the piano. A contemporary review of a play I did not see: Cold Fury (31 January ) starring Sam Wanamaker, Bernard Lee Script: James Workman Director: Dennis Vance A review by G Taylor- "Armchair Theatre came up with 'AN Adults Only' piece.