August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ at the Ford’s Theatre speaks to audiences in a raw poignant voice

5 min 3 yrs

Today’s Fences could easily fit into an episode of housewives drama filled with infidelity, alcohol, prison, relationship drama, and long-suffering wives, along with competition, humor, rawness, and confrontations. This production however, while being madly inspiring, sad, and symbolic, somehow missed the mark. Set in the 1950’s, Fences is the sixth in August Wilson’s ten-part cycle of plays, the “Pittsburg or Century Cycle” which explores 100 years of the African-American experience.  It is set in Wilson’s hometown of Pittsburgh and follows has-been baseball player Troy Maxson, who is the victim of segregation ending up as a garbage man living with dutiful wife Rose, and son Cory, who has an opportunity to earn a football scholarship. However, dad Troy wants him to get a job at the expense of his son’s dream. While the play itself, originally winning a Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Tony Award for Best Play both in 1987, the Ford’s Theatre production of Wilson’s writing spoke to all of those illuminating, provocative, and pulsating issues of life, while being somewhat lackluster.

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