The Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play, “Fences” by August Wilson, opens at 8 pm Jan. 26 for an eight-performance run, Fridays and Saturdays through Feb. 17 at Aurora Community Theatre, 115 E. Pioneer Trail.
Set in 1957 Pittsburgh, “Fences” examines the cultural, economic, and generational challenges of an African-American, blue-collar, family.
With his literary prizes and ten-play magnum opus, “The American Century Cycle,” (of which “Fences” is the sixth work), “Wilson takes a rightful place alongside Eugene O’Neill, Edward Albee and Tennessee Williams as one of the greatest American playwrights,” wrote critic Roger Ebert, who reviewed the 2016 film adaptation.
Michael Oatman, playwright-in-residence at Karamu Theatre and winner of the 2011 Cleveland Arts Prize “Emerging Artist Award for Literature,” directs “Fences” with Pauline Tesnow, assistant director, and Marc C. Howard, producer.
Darryl Tatum takes on the role of Troy Maxon, former Negro League baseball player, now city garbage collector. Maxon, a big man with strong opinions, uses equally strong language to proclaim his views, especially to his best friend and former cellmate, Jim Bono, performed by Royce Ruffin.
Christina Johnson plays Rose Maxon, Troy’s long-suffering, dutiful wife, who more than anything wants to keep her family safe, which is why she encourages her husband to finish the backyard fence. Jarrell Brown plays their high school-aged son, Cory Maxon, who is committed to earning a football scholarship.
Anthony Lanier plays Lyons Maxon, Troy’s son from a previous relationship, and Andre Brown takes on the role of Troy’s younger brother, Gabriel, who suffers from a World War II head wound and now thinks he is the archangel Gabriel. Logan Dior Williams performs as Troy’s daughter, Raynell Maxon.
Ann Nyenhuis is stage manager with April Sike, assistant stage manager. Todd J. Plone designed the set and served as scenic artist. Nyenhuis oversaw set building with a construction crew including Neil Rubin, April Sike, Sarah Kuchcinski, Joe Mira, Jerry Schaber, D. Keith Stiver, Marc C.Howard, Marty Pekarcik, Todd Plone, and Dave Nyenhuis, who also serves on the running crew.
Karen Cirino, designed the costumes, T.L. Codella, the lighting, and Maggie Hamilton, the sound. Hamilton also serves as liaison to the ACT Board of Trustees.
The play was first developed at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s 1983 National Playwrights Conference and premiered at the Yale Repertory Theatre in 1985.
“Fences” opened on Broadway’s 46th Street Theatre directed by Lloyd Richards, starring James Earl Jones as Troy Maxon and Mary Alice as Rose in1987, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Revived on Broadway in 2010, directed by Kenny Leon, featuring Denzel Washington as Troy and Viola Davis as Rose, “Fences” won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play, the Outer Critics Circle Award as well as the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Play.
Washington and Davis reprised their roles for the 2016 film adaptation, which Washington directed. Davis won both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for best performance of an actress in a supporting role.
“One of the great characters in American drama. One of the richest experiences I have ever had in the theatre. I wasn’t just moved. I was transfixed.” – New York Post
“A blockbuster and a major American play.” – New York Daily News
“Good “Fences” make good neighbors, says Robert Frost. But “Fences” do considerably more. “Fences” keep things out. They keep things in. They mark boundaries. They divide. And not all “Fences” are visible to the naked eye. For Troy Maxson, a fence is what he used to hit a ball over back in his glory days when he played baseball in the Negro League, and what his wife wants him to build for their back yard now, in 1957. But other “Fences” are in his life, too – the fence around the prison he was once in; the fence separating himself from his son, Cory; the fence dividing white garbage truck drivers from the black garbage can collectors in Pittsburgh.” Leonard Dozier, actor/musician.
AUDIENCE ADVISORY: “Fences” includes realistic dialogue, explicit and suggestive language, situations and innuendo that some may find offensive.
“Fences” is presented through special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc. Originally produced on Broadway by Carole Shorenstein Hays, in association with Yale Repertory Theatre World Premiere at Yale Repertory Theatre (Lloyd Richards, Artistic Director; Benjamin Mordecai, Managing Director); Second Production at The Goodman Theatre (Robert Falls, Artistic Director; Roche Schulfer, Managing Director). Initially given a staged reading at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference.