With August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-Winning "Fences"
The Huntington Theatre Company will open
its 28th season – a season of American stories – with August
Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning
"Fences," the sixth chapter of his groundbreaking
ten-play cycle about the 20th century African-American experience. Performances
run September 11 through October 11.
Leon ("Radio Golf," "Gem of the Ocean,"
"A Raisin in the Sun"), acclaimed director and Wilson’s
final collaborator before his death, returns to the Huntington to helm
the production, which stars John Beasley ("Two
Trains Running," "Jitney," “Everwood”).
"Fences" is the story of Troy Maxson, a former
Negro Leagues star, who peaked too soon for baseball’s integration
and instead hit the ceiling of racial prejudice. Working as a garbage
collector in 1957 in Pittsburgh, Troy is resentful of a world that denied
him the opportunity for the national success he feels he deserved.
Troy’s son Cory, an emerging football star, sees the
world through very different eyes than his father. Paralyzed by his own
bitterness, Troy refuses to support his son’s ambitions. Meanwhile,
Troy’s wife Rose yearns for a true outlet for her love, his son
Lyons strives for his father’s love and respect, and his brother
Gabriel, a mentally-disabled war veteran, offers Troy a different perspective
of the world.
Artistic Director Peter DuBois commented, “The
Huntington provided August with an artistic home throughout his career.
'Fences '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. Kenny has been such an important part
of the Huntington’s special relationship with August and his work.
I am thrilled to welcome him back.”
August Wilson was the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes,
a Tony Award, an Olivier Award, and
eight Drama Critics’ Circle Awards for the ten
chapters of his groundbreaking decade-by-decade exploration of the heritage
and experience of African-Americans in the 20th century. The Huntington
played an integral part in Wilson’s play development process, producing
eight of his ten works before transferring them to New York: "Joe
Turner’s Come and Gone" - 1910s (1986), "The
Piano Lesson" - 1930s (1987), "Two Trains Running"
- 1960s (1990), "Seven Guitars" - 1940s (1995),
"Jitney" - 1970s (1998), "King
Hedley II" - 1980s (2000), "Gem of the Ocean"
-1 900s (2004), and "Radio Golf" - 1990s (2006).
Wilson died in 2005, just after completing "Radio Golf," his
Director Kenny Leon was Wilson’s final collaborator and has directed
all ten of Wilson’s plays. His relationship with the Huntington
began in 1993 when he helmed "From the Mississippi Delta."
Other productions for the Huntington include "A Raisin in
the Sun" with Esther Rolle (1995) and "Blues
for an Alabama Sky" (1997) with Tony Award winner Phylicia
Rashad. For the Huntington and then on Broadway, he directed
"Gem of the Ocean" with Rashad (2004) and "Radio
Golf" (2006). In 2008, he served as Artistic Director of
"August Wilson’s 20th Century" at The
Kennedy Center, a six-week festival staging readings of the works
with sets, costumes, and lighting. Leon is the founding artistic director
of True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta and served
as associate artistic director of Alliance Theatre. He
directed the 2004 Tony Award-winning Broadway revival and the Emmy Award-nominated
television film of Lorraine Hansberry’s "A Raisin in
the Sun" starring Sean Combs, Rashad, and
Leon says "Fences" was a seminal work in his development as
a theatre artist. “I saw 'Fences,' and it was the first time I felt
like my grandmother’s and mother’s rhythms were onstage. It
was so powerful -- I’d never heard them before.”
Leon is looking forward to revisiting the play. “This
will be my fourth time, and it can be hard to direct a play more than
once because, after a while, you feel you’ve exhausted it, but this
hasn’t been the case with 'Fences.' It feels like a new play every
time. I’m always making new discoveries.”
“I dearly miss August,” he added. “The last time he
was healthy was the time we spent in Boston working on 'Gem of the Ocean.'
So when I think of August, I think of us walking on Huntington Avenue
-- starting out for a five minute conversation and talking for two hours.”
The Huntington’s 2009-2010 season of American stories
is the first in the Company’s 28-year history comprised entirely
of plays by American writers. The plays of the season relate to one another
through stories of opportunities lost and found, of intergenerational
struggles and successes, and of the most intimate and meaningful relationships.
Drawn from some of the best writing the country has to offer, the season
will offers thoughts about issues of race, class, values, and a shared
John Beasley, making his Huntington debut, leads the
cast in the role of Troy. He previously performed the role in The Kennedy
Center’s "August Wilson’s 20th Century,"
at the New American Theatre, and at the John Beasley Theatre,
of which he is the founder. Other regional credits include August Wilson’s
"Two Trains Running" (Goodman Theatre), "Jitney"
(Alliance Theatre), and "Joe Turner’s Come
and Gone" (JBT). He has starred in more than 35 films including
"Rudy" and "The Apostle,"
and appeared on television for four years on the WB’s “Everwood.”
The company also includes Brandon J. Dirden, Crystal
Fox, Eugene Lee, Warner Miller, and Bill Nunn.
Related Events --
Monday, September 14, 7:30 p.m.
Roxbury Community College
Mainstage at the Media Arts Building
1234 Columbus Avenue, Roxbury
August Wilson’s Legacy
Join the Huntington for a free community event at Roxbury Community College
celebrating the legacy of August Wilson and looking ahead to an exciting
new generation of playwrights. The event will feature a talk with Kenny
Leon, a panel discussion with Boston-area playwrights (including Lydia
R. Diamond, author of "Stick Fly"), and live performances of
scenes from both Wilson's and Diamond's work. No reservations are necessary.
Sunday, September 20
Following the 2 p.m. performance at the Boston University Theatre
Humanities Forum with Author Larry Tye
Humanities Forums are post-show discussions with a leading local scholar
that explore the historical and/or literary context of the play. Literary
Associate Charles Haugland leads a discussion with former Boston Globe
reporter Larry Tye, author of Satchel: The Life and Times of Satchel
Paige, about one of the Negro Baseball League’s most famous
Free with a ticket to any performance.
Thursday, October 1, 10 a.m.
American Sign Language-Interpreted Student Matinee
Student Matinee tickets are available for $12.
Study guide and pre-show classroom visit included.
Contact Meg Wieder at 617 273-1558 for more information.
Ongoing– Post-Show Discussions
New this season, the Huntington offers post-show audience discussions
with members of the Artistic Department after all Tuesday-Friday evening
performances, Saturday matinees, and Sunday matinees. Free with a ticket
to the performance.
Ongoing– American Stories Contest: Share
your American Story
The Huntington Theatre Company’s 2009-2010 Season features seven
windows into the American experience by American writers, and is filled
with American stories. Share your own American story and enter to win
VIP tickets to each of the opening night performances and post-show cast
parties throughout the season. Enter in either category: 18-and-under
or General. One winner will be per show plus a Grand Prize winner for
Or . . .
Create a video or write an essay response
to the following question:
In "Fences," Troy Maxson played baseball in the Negro
Leagues before integration and never realized his dream of becoming a
Major League star. Do you have a dream for your life you have yet to achieve?
How will you?
Send your submission with your name, address,
and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org. All entries will be
posted on the Huntington’s blog and winners will be featured in
the theater's monthly e-newsletter.
For tickets and information, stop by the box office, call
617-266-0800 visit www.huntingtontheatre.org.