August: Osage County Background

August: Osage County Background

Tracy Letts' black comedy August: Osage County (2007) tells the story of a family who is forced to confront its past and present. The bulk of the story takes place over the course of several weeks in August inside the home of Beverly and Violet Weston near Pawhuska, Oklahoma. We follow Beverly, Violet, Barbra Fordham, Ivy Weston, and Karen Weston as they attempt to mend their relationship and find Beverly. The play premiered at the Steppenwolf theater in Chicago. It later had a Broadway premier, following it up with a nationwide tour nearly two months after the Broadway shows ended.

Speaking of the origins of the play's name, Letts said: "I could never come up with a title as brilliant as 'August: Osage County.' Mr. Howard Starks, gentleman, teacher, poet, genius, mentor, friend, created that title for an extraordinary poem that is one of the inspirations for my play. I steal the title with deference, yet without apology – Howard, I'm sure, would have it no other way – and I dedicate this play to his memory." Letts incorporated quite a few themes into the play, including hard relationships, racism, dysfunction, loss, and violence.

Upon release, the play received tremendous critical acclaim. It was the recipient of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and won the Tony award for Best Play. Says TimeOut New York: "A tremendous achievement in American playwriting: a tragicomic populist portrait of a tough land and a tougher people." Additionally, book feedback site Goodreads.com shows that the book has a rating of 4.2/5, indicating considerable acclaim. It has since been adapted into a film in 2013 written by Tracy Letts, directed by John Wells, and starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, and Ewan McGregor.

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