August: Osage County

August: Osage County Study Guide

Tracy Letts' black comedy August: Osage County was written in 2007 and premiered at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago before transferring to Broadway and running for 648 performances. In 2008 it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was widely lauded as a great American drama.

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."

The play tells the story of a family forced to confront its dark secrets and dubious future after the suicide of its patriarch, Beverly Weston. 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 with their pill-addicted mother and try and find some closure around their father's death.

Upon its premiere, the play received tremendous critical acclaim. After its Broadway run, it won the Tony Award for Best Play. TimeOut New York wrote, "A tremendous achievement in American playwriting: a tragicomic populist portrait of a tough land and a tougher people." 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.