Became involved in theatre in the late 1960s when he co-founded the Black Horizons Theater, a community theatre located in Pittsburgh. First attracted wide critical attention with his Broadway debut, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (1984). His plays center on the struggles and identity of African Americans. They draw heavily on his own experience growing up in the Hill District of Pittsburgh. Jitney (1982), Fences (1987; Pulitzer Prize), Joe Turner's Come and Gone (1988), The Piano Lesson (1990; Pulitzer Prize), Two Trains Running (1992), Seven Guitars (1995), King Hedley II (2001), and Gem of the Ocean (2003) form a series of dramas that focuses on the major issues confronting African Americans during different decades of the 20th century. Continues a close alliance with the Pittsburgh Public Theater.
Historical Marker commemorating August Wilson located at 1727 Bedford Ave., Pittsburgh.