August Wilson's King Hedley II

by  August Wilson

Full Length Play, Drama  /  4m, 2f

Finalist! 2000 Pulitzer Prize in Drama

"Grand [with] some of the finest monologues ever written for an American stage, speeches that build gritty, often brutal details into fiery patterns of insight.... You may feel the scorch of lightning." 

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August Wilson's King Hedley II

by  August Wilson

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    4m, 2f
  • Duration


    120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre


  • Accolades


    Tony, Pulitzer, From Broadway, From Off-Broadway
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult

Additional Info

Peddling stolen refrigerators in the feeble hope of making enough money to open a video store, King Hedley, a man whose self worth is built on self delusion, is scraping in the dirt of an urban backyard trying to plant seeds where nothing will grow. Getting, spending, killing and dying in a world where getting is hard and killing is commonplace are threads woven into this 1980's installment in the author's renowned cycle of plays about the black experience in America. Drawing on characters established in Seven Guitars, King Hedley II shows the shadows of the past reaching into the present as King seeks retribution for a lie perpetrated by his mother regarding the identity of his father.
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  • Finalist! 2000 Pulitzer Prize in Drama

    August Wilson is the recipient of the 1986 Whiting Award for Drama.



"Grand [with] some of the finest monologues ever written for an American stage, speeches that build gritty, often brutal details into fiery patterns of insight.... You may feel the scorch of lightning." - The New York Times

"Mesmerizing.... Full of powerful images that convey the darkly comic dialogue between hope and hopelessness in African American life." - N.Y. Daily News

"Exhilarating.... Wilson has endowed his struggling souls with a metaphysical grandeur and a titanic vigor of language that is like no other dramatist's. He takes the idea of tragedy and the common man to Olympian heights ... [and] boldly tackles the big philosophical questions most contemporary playwrights shrink from. He articulates these questions with grounding, often witty detail and in an inner city vernacular that soars into both unabashed lyricism and earthy anecdote.... There is no denying the transporting, natural music of Hedley and phrases from it haunt the memory." - The New York Times


Performing Groups

  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre


  • Caution Alcohol Alcohol
  • Caution Strong Language Strong Language
  • Caution Mild Adult Mild Adult Themes
  • Caution Smoking Smoking

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $125 per performance



  • Time Period: 1980s
  • Duration: 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting: Pittsburgh, the Hill District, 1985. The backyards of a row of three houses.


4m, 2f
KING (KING HEDLEY II) – Has a vicious scar running down the left side of his face. Spent seven years in prison. Strives to live by his own moral code. Thirties.
RUBY – King’s mother, former big band singer who recently moved back to Pittsburgh. Sixties.
MISTER – King’s best friend since grade school and sometimes business partner. Thirties.
ELMORE – Ruby’s longtime, but sporadic flame. A professional hustler. Sixties.
TONYA – King’s wife of a few years. Thirties.
STOOL PIGEON – King’s next-door neighbor. The Hill’s spiritual and practical truthsayer. Late sixties.
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Cast Attributes

  • Role(s) for Black Actor(s)


Available Services



August Wilson

August Wilson (April 27, 1945-October 2, 2005) authored 

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King Hedley II premiered at the Pittsburgh Public Theatre in PIttsburgh, PA in December 1999 under the direction of Marion McClinton.

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