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PCPA’s ‘Fences’ hits it out of the park

%22Fences%22+actors+do+an+amazing+job+and+a+great+picture+is+taken.+

"Fences" actors do an amazing job and a great picture is taken.

"Fences" actors do an amazing job and a great picture is taken.

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PCPA’s production of August Wilson’s Fences is now showing in Marian Theatre here in Santa Maria. Fences follows the lives of Pittsburgh resident Troy Maxon and his family and friends as they try to follow their dreams while facing the challenges that being African American bring during the 1950s.

Fences is the third of ten plays in August Wilson’s American Century Cycle – a series of plays which explore the heritage and experiences of African Americans decade-by-decade over the course of the twentieth century. This collection is considered to be monumental to all theatre history and the role of Troy Maxon has been compared to the King Lear of American theater.

The play follows the lives of the Maxon family and their friends, all of whom are blacks living during the time of racially segregated America. Troy Maxon (Derrick Lee Weeden) is a former Negro League baseball player who could have made it to the Major Leagues if it weren’t for the color of his skin. Troy now picks up garbage with other blacks, including his good friend Jim Bono (Michael J. Asberry). Rose (Karole Foreman), Troy’s wife, is a strong-willed woman who stands her ground and keeps those around her in check. And while Rose is hard when she needs to be, she has a tender heart and reminds Troy to have one too. Gabriel (Michael G. Keck), Troy’s brother, is a war veteran who suffered a brain injury during the war; previously living in the Maxon home, Gabriel now lives with a neighbor named Ms. Pearl, trying to live as much of an independent life as he can. Troy and Rose have two children together: Lyons (Satchel André), an aspiring musician, and Cory (Chris Mansa) who dreams of playing college football. Another child, Raynell (Kandice Flowers), comes along later in a most unexpected way.

As the production focuses primarily on Troy Maxon and his inner conflicts, the audience sees how his dreams of what he could have been come to affect those around him. Throughout the play, Troy makes references to his past in the Negro Leagues and the injustice he was served in being cut because of his color. While America is still racially segregated during the 1950s, Rose assures Troy that times have improved for blacks since he was young. However, Troy still will not have it; this comes to affect Cory, as Troy will not allow him to play football, believing it will lead nowhere just as his past experience with baseball. The audience experiences Troy’s feelings as he begins to ignore those around him in his search for happiness. This takes a toll on his relationship with his wife, his family, and his friends.

The PCPA production of Fences is miraculously crafted and performed. From the astonishing actors to the intricate set and scenery; the hard work and preparation were evident. The actors blew the audience away. While the play was a drama and dealt with some serious topics, there were also moments of comedy which the actors delivered perfectly. Karole Formeman (Rose) made the audience feel her pain and sorrow in her climactic break-down scene, and actors such as Dereck Lee Weeden (Troy) and Michael J. Asberry (Bono) gave the audience a comedic break during their scenes.

What set this production apart was its accuracy and authenticity. There were themes of death, separation, racism – all very heavy topics – and none of them were sugar-coated. There was consistent violence and language – not to the point where it felt like too much, but to the point where it felt necessary to present the message to the audience. The set designers also brought their A-game. PCPA sets are always impressive, but this set was on another level. The play takes place in a shabby brick house with a large dirt yard which captures the essence of what living would have looked like for many African Americans during the twentieth century; the stage was completely transformed.

PCPA hit it out of the park with their performance of August Wilson’s Fences. The play presents some intense topics and language which may not be suitable for all ages, but it would definitely be enjoyed by any mature audience member. The play conveys numerous important and timely messages which everyone should know, so don’t miss out on this extraordinary performance. The show will run at PCPA until October 1st and you can get tickets by visiting PCPA.org.

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3 Comments

3 Responses to “PCPA’s ‘Fences’ hits it out of the park”

  1. Krysten Parker on September 21st, 2017 9:04 AM

    So good!!!

    [Reply]

  2. Savannah Blouin on September 22nd, 2017 8:29 AM

    This article is wonderful!!! Now I want to go see the play!!

    [Reply]

  3. Joey Orozco on September 22nd, 2017 8:36 AM

    I’m definitely going to watch the play now! Such a good article!

    [Reply]

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PCPA’s ‘Fences’ hits it out of the park