Each of his ten plays set in a different decade of the 20th century enables Wilson to explore, often in very subtle ways, the myriad and mutating forms of the legacy of slavery. Each one of this cycle called "The Pittsburgh Cycle" or his "Century Cycle," set in a different decade, depicting zach wilson the comedy and tragedy of the African-American experience then, is unprecedented in American theater for its concept, size, and cohesion. Nine of them are set in Pittsburgh's Hill District, an African-American neighborhood that takes on a mythic literary significance like Thomas Hardy's Wessex, William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County, or Irish playwright Brian Friel's Ballybeg.
Although the plays are not strictly parts of a serial story, some characters appear (at various ages) in more than one of them. Children of characters in earlier plays may even appear in later ones. The character Aunt Ester, a "washer of souls" who is reported to be 285 years old in Gem of the Ocean, which takes place in her home at 1839 Wylie Avenue, and 322 in Two Trains Running and who dies in 1985, during the events of 'King Hedley I1 is the most frequently mentioned in the cycle. In another, Radio Golf , much of the action revolves around plans to demolish and redevelop Aunt Ester's house, some years after her death.