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The Piano Lesson



It is 1936, and Boy Willie arrives in Pittsburgh from the South in a battered truck loaded with watermelons to sell. He has an opportunity to buy some land down home, but he has to come up with the money right quick. He wants to sell an old piano that has been in his family for generations, but he shares ownership with his sister and it sits in her living room. She has already rejected several offers because the antique piano is covered with incredible carvings detailing the family’s rise from slavery. Boy Willie tries to persuade his stubborn sister that the past is past, but she is more formidable than he anticipated.

Character Breakdown

Avery Brown (M, 38, preacher) Honest and ambitious
Winning Boy (M) Doaker's brother. A wandering, washed-up recording star. A comic figure.
Boy Willie (M, 30) Berniece's brash, impulsive, and fast-talking brother.
Lymon (M, 29) Boy Willie's longtime friend. Straightforward and obsessed with women.
Grace (F, young and urban) Hit on by both Boy Willie and Lymon
Berniece (F, 35) Sister of Boy Willie. Maretha's mother, still in mourning for her husband, Crawley.
Doaker Charles (M, 47, tall and thin, railroad worker) Berniece and Boy Willie's uncle and the owner of the household in which the play takes place.
Maretha (F,11) Berniece's daughter. Maretha is beginning to learn piano. She symbolizes the next generation of the Charles' family.