August Wilsonâ€™s decade-by-decade ten-play cycle of the African-American experience in the last century has been widely acclaimed as one of the towering achievements of modern American theater. Bostonâ€™s Huntington Theatre Company (HTC) played an integral part in Wilsonâ€™s play development process, producing eight of his ten works before transferring them to New York.
On September 11 the Huntington will open its 28th season (a season dedicated for the first time to exclusively American stories) with a production of one of the â€œmissingâ€ installments: â€œFences,â€ the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning sixth chapter of Wilsonâ€™s canon.
â€œThe Huntington provided August with an artistic home throughout his career,â€ notes HTC Artistic Director Peter DuBois. â€œâ€˜Fencesâ€™ is one of only two plays from his magnificent opus that we have not yet produced. This fall we take one step closer to completing his cycle with one of his greatest.â€
Renowned Wilson collaborator Kenny Leon returns to the Huntington to direct the ninth of Wilsonâ€™s plays to be staged by the company, a sport-themed drama he has directed three times before. â€œIt can be hard to direct a play more than once because after a while you feel youâ€™ve exhausted it, but this hasnâ€™t been the case with â€˜Fences.â€™ It feels like a new play every time. Iâ€™m always making new discoveries.â€
â€œFencesâ€ revolves around Troy Maxson (â€œEverwoodâ€ star, John Beasley), a former Negro Leagues standout who peaked too soon for baseballâ€™s integration and instead hit the ceiling of racial prejudice. Working as a garbage collector in 1957 Pittsburgh, Troy is resentful of a world that denied him the opportunities for the national success he feels he deserves. Troyâ€™s son Cory (Warner Miller), an emerging football star, sees the world through very different eyes than his father, but is paralyzed by the embittered Troy who refuses to support his sonâ€™s ambitions.
Several other cast members including Crystal Fox, who plays Troyâ€™s wife, Rose, appeared in previous productions of other Wilson works at the Huntington.
On September 14, HTC will sponsor a free community event at Roxbury Community College (MainStage Media Arts 7:30 pm) celebrating the legacy of August Wilson and the future achievements of new local playwrights. The event will feature a talk with Kenny Leon, director of â€œFencesâ€ and â€œStick Fly,â€ a panel discussion including Boston-based Lydia R. Diamond, author of â€œStick Fly,â€ and live performances of scenes from these two plays. No reservation necessary.