Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati

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August Wilson's How I Learned What I Learned

co-conceived by Todd Kreidler

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A black and white photo of August Wilson in profile against a background of various white pages with writing collaged over a wall. A black and white photo of August Wilson in profile against a background of various white pages with writing collaged over a wall.

You know his iconic work. Now know him.

Written and originally performed by playwriting legend August Wilson himself, this autobiographical tour-de-force chronicles Wilson’s days as a struggling young writer. In this intimate one-person play, experience his first jobs; his first loves; a stint in jail; his encounters with racism, violence, and music; and how the people of Pittsburgh’s Hill District inspired his celebrated cycle of plays. Following his rise from a young poet to the literary giant we honor today, this timeless and heartfelt memoir charts one man’s journey of self-discovery and what it means to be a Black artist in America.



Photo of August Wilson by David Cooper, originally created for the 2005 World Premiere of Radio Golf at Yale Repertory Theatre.

Run time: ~1 hr, 45 min with no intermission

Content warning: When telling his story, August Wilson doesn’t shy away from adult language (including the n-word) and difficult subjects. He frankly and honestly discusses how racism, violence, sexual relationships, and drug use impacted his life.

You'll love this show if you love...

  • Unapologetically honest explorations of Black identity and artistry
  • Autobiographical pieces by historical icons
  • Intimate and deeply felt shows where actors speak right to you
  • Inspiring shows about perseverance, creativity, and community
  • Lyrical, beautifully poetic dialogue paired with powerful performances
  • No-holds-barred advice and lessons from legends
  • The work and life of August Wilson!

Similar ETC shows:

  • Your Negro Tour Guide by Kathy Y. Wilson, Torie Wiggins, and Jeff Griffin
  • His Eye Is on the Sparrow by Larry Parr
  • Thurgood by George Stevens Jr.


Similar titles:

  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix) and other August Wilson works
  • Moonlight (A24)
  • I Am Not Your Negro (Amazon Studios)

Creative team

An older man with a medium-dark skin tone and a graying goatee wearing a fedora hat and looking knowingly at the camera while crossing his arms

August Wilson

August Wilson

Events & Accessibility

Several people in theirs 20s and 30s around a restaurant table smiling at the cameraShow Up! Young Professionals Event

Saturday, February 24 at 2:00 pm

Join other Young Professionals (at a special YP price) for the performance then walk to a nearby bar or restaurant to mingle and discuss the show over discounted drinks and bites.

A yellow speech bubble graphicETC Essentials

Sunday, March 3 at 1:00 pm

Dive even deeper into each show with a FREE conversations series that explores our productions’ themes and context with local scholars and community members. These start an hour before show time, and registration is recommended.

""Meet the Artists

Thursday, February 29 at 7:30 pm | Sunday, March 3 at 2:00 pm

Stay after the show for a FREE post-show behind-the-scenes discussion with artists from the production.


American Sign LanguageASL-Interpreted Performance

Wednesday, March 6 at 7:30 pm

Interpreters perform a translation of the play into ASL alongside the performance in a position with great sightlines to see both the action of the play and the interpreters.

Ask for an assistive listening device at any performance from our box office.

Audio Described PerformanceAudio Described Performance

Saturday, March 9 at 2:00 pm

Patrons can use a headset for one ear to hear descriptions of key visual elements inserted into natural pauses in the show, allowing patrons to still hear dialogue, sound effects, and music.

Ask for large print or Braille playbills at any performance from our box office.

Photo credits | | First Timer’s Guide, Brooke Steele in The Frog Princess; Ticket Info, Bryant Bentley, Burgess Byrd, and Leslie Goddard-Baum in Detroit ’67 (Mikki Schaffner); Subscriptions, Cast of Hedwig and the Angry Inch; Ticket Discounts, Torie Wiggins in Your Negro Tour Guide. All images by Ryan Kurtz unless otherwise noted.