Closer Look: Fences
Learn more about CSC's upcoming production of August Wilson's "Fences"
A note from the director, Christopher V. Edwards:
“...I was trying to answer James Baldwin’s call for a profound articulation of the black experience, which he defined as that field of manners and ritual of intercourse that will sustain a man once he has left his father’s house. I was trying to do that. I wanted to place that tradition on stage simply to prove that it was there and that it was capable of offering sustenance.”
-August Wilson, 1988, Academy of Achievement Summit in Nashville, TN
This quote describes what August Wilson attempted to do through his work. In essence, he allowed theatre artist and the public at large to see the stories of black America on commercial stages from Broadway to Regional Theatres throughout the country. On a more personal note, with a never waning love for his people; their speech patterns, their traditions, rituals, shared knowledge, ancestral legacy, music, art, mythology - August’s plays stand as a clarion call to the world that the stories of black folks are timeless, compelling and matter immensely.
Langston Hughes wrote a poem, Harlem, which referenced “a dream deferred.” Lorrain Hansberry took inspiration from this poem for her play, A Raisin in the Sun. August also writes about deferred dreams; however, his characters refuse to settle for deferred dreams. August’s characters make big and bold choices, much like Troy in our play, they swing for the fences. This mentality of going all out, is a reflection of the African American culture’s constant fight for freedom in this country. A freedom that metaphorically plays itself out in Wilson’s characters having a song to sing; some characters have forgotten their song, some have lost their song, some are learning their song, some have their song caught in their throat and some sing their song with gusto. These characters and their “songs” resonate with the natural rhythms, and poetic genius of African American speech that is intensely influenced by the Blues.
Fences, the sixth play in The American Century Cycle by August Wilson is a story of a family struggling from 1957 - 1965 to hold on to an “American Dream.” The play centers around Troy Maxson, a garbage man, who had dreams of becoming a professional baseball player, but was not given the opportunity due to his age and race. Troy is haunted by not achieving his dream. He has lived a life committed to a loving family, raising his son, being a good husband, and taking care of his brother, Gabriel, who was injured in the war. However, as you will see during the play, Troy succumbs to financial and personal tensions and begins to falter in his commitments.
I am honored to direct Fences here at the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. Thank you, and enjoy the show.
Preliminary sketches for "Fences" from Costume Designer, Kendra Johnson: