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August Wilson’s Magnum Opus "Fences" Onstage Through June 9th

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Drama on the Black Experience in Segregated 1950s America Explores Themes of Self-Identity, Generational Trauma, and the Pursuit of Happiness


August Wilson’s classic American drama Fences takes centerstage at Costa Mesa Playhouse (CMP) through June 9, 2024. Fences revolves around Troy Maxson, a former star of the Negro baseball leagues, who now works as a garbage man in 1957 Pittsburgh. Excluded from the major leagues in his prime, Troy has grown increasingly bitter, and his anger and frustration take a toll on his relationships with his wife and son.


Fences is widely regarded as Wilson’s greatest work as a playwright, who has been referred to as the "Theater's Poet of Black America" and the “American Shakespeare.” The play won both the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award for Best Play in 1987, with James Earl Jones and Mary Alice winning Tonys for their respective performances. The 2010 Broadway Revival earned another 10 Tony nominations, winning Best Revival of a Play, anchored by Tony-winning performances by Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. The duo went on to reprise their roles in the 2016 film adaptation of Fences, with Davis winning an Oscar. 


The CMP production of Fences welcomes back director Rovin Jay, who previously directed Once on this Island, a Caribbean-set retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid.


Fences is the sixth play in Wilson’s prolific compilation, The American Century Cycle (also known as The Pittsburgh Cycle), which explores the heritage and experience of the descendants of Africans in North America, decade by decade, throughout the twentieth century. Speaking to such themes and his vision for the show, Jay hopes audiences empathize with the patriarch and protagonist of Fences, Troy Maxson. 


"It is easy to vilify Troy for the choices he makes that drive his family apart,” Jay elaborates. "Through his story, however, I hope audiences recognize the often-overlooked personal and societal circumstances in which he grew up, and how the damage inflicted on him resonated throughout the rest of his life and impacted the people he loved. This is not a story unique to Troy, as the circumstances that surround his life remain familiar to many Black men.” 


Taking on the role of Troy Maxson is Damon Rutledge. Joining him are a pair of 2024 Orange County Theatre Guild Award winners from CMP’s critically acclaimed production of Clybourne Park: Taj Young (Rose Maxson), winner in the Supporting Performance and Ensemble categories;  and Ja'lil Nelson (Lyons Maxson), fellow Ensemble honoree and Supporting Performance nominee. Rounding out the cast are Van Hudson Jr. (Jim Bono), Philip Bushell (Gabriel Maxson), Kyle Hill (Cory Maxson), and Charlize Patmon (Raynell Maxson). 


“This has been an amazing cast to collaborate with,” concludes Jay. “Most of them have performed this play before. As such, they were all ready and willing to dig deeper into the material and make discoveries that they had not considered or experienced before.” 


Fences performances take place on Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and on Sundays at 2pm. There will be an additional performance on May 30th at 8pm (Pay What You Will).  A talkback with director Rovin Jay and the cast will be held on Saturday, May 25th. 

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