Fall in the Rockies will be graced with August again–the late Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, August Wilson that is. His play, Fences, is opening September 14, 2012 in the Space Theater of the Denver Center for Performing Arts Complex (DCPA). The play, Fences, is one of Wilson’s ten award winning play series, each work depicting a decade of African American life lived from the 1900’s through 1990.
DCPA is the only professional theater company to date that has produced all ten of Wilson’s decade series. To boot, DCPA chose to keep the same director every production year, the late Israel Hicks, who passed away in 2010. In 1987, under Hick’s direction, Fences, received a Drama Desk Award, A Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play and a Tony Award for Best Play. This year, in lieu of Hicks death, Fences will be directed by the celebrated director Lou Bellamy. It will be interesting to see how Bellamy’s vision for this work unfolds and what differences, if any, he brings to this production—the first year without Hicks at the helm.
Although Wilson passed away in 2005, Fences continues its award winning legacy. In 2010, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis played leading roles on Broadway in this play. The pair both won Tony Awards for their leading role performances. Certainly these accolades are most impressive but it seems Wilson’s universal storytelling skills are what keep capturing the hearts of both theater critics and audiences.
The play, Fences, is an intriguing tale told through the lens of the 1950’s. It’s about a family living in Pittsburg’s America. The father, Troy, is a frustrated Negro League professional baseball player forced to work as a garbage man. He is embittered, to say the least. His wife, Rose, is a stay at home mom, running their household and taking care of their son, Cory. As life often does, it turns out, Cory—like his father—is a great athlete and is being recruited to play college football. His father cannot or will not choose to see any good for his son in this athletic scholarship offer.
Initially, it appears as if Troy is the protagonist. Yet, as the story progresses, you wonder if he’s not the antagonist as you witness the spewing of all his personal life’s disappointments on his son’s future. There are some incredibly potent moments in this work as this family works through hardships in order to remain a family. The story is also surprisingly chalked full of refreshing humor and rich life lessons.
Wilson tackles complicated issues throughout this work. Although it’s not recommended for anyone under 16 years old, it is not a dark drama entirely. There are continual rays of bright genuine hope— a lot like the August sunshine we often experience during Colorado’s fall season.
Performance times are Tuesday-Thursday, 6:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m., with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Fences performances will run September 14-October 14, 2012. For more information or Ticket Sales contact 303-952-0560 or go to www.denvercenter.org