One of the leading playwrights of the late twentieth century, August Wilson brought African American culture and history to the stage with eloquence. His many awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes, together with his formidable critical reputation and the popularity of his plays, marked his status as perhaps the greatest black dramatist of his generation. Wilson is widely known for his ear for idiomatic African American dialogue, his gift for portraying political dilemmas and social turbulence in an immediate and compelling manner, and his deep knowledge of daily life among impoverished blacks living in U.S. cities.
Two Trains Running, one of Wilson’s most overtly and pointedly political works, takes place during the heyday of the black power movement, at a moment of great upheaval in U.S. race relations. It is one of a series of plays dealing with African American culture and history in the twentieth century, and perhaps its central theme is the manner in which the poor urban black community reacted to legal victories of the civil rights movement. Wilson stresses that a sense of hopelessness went hand-in-hand with optimism and progress in places such as 1969 urban Pittsburgh, where equal rights applied to African Americans only in theory and many blacks struggled daily with meager wages and dismal prospects. As of 2007, the play was available in a 1993 paperback edition published by Plume Drama. It originally opened in 1990 and came to Broadway in 1992 with a cast that included Samuel L. Jackson and Laurence Fishburne.