Historic insight in modern times

Drama takes the stage, transcending time with themes of overcoming social norms and a universal tale of familial bonds that speaks to audience members across the spectrum with the production of August Wilson’s “Fences.”

Set in 1950’s Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the story follows the life of 53-year-old garbage collector Troy Maxson as he struggles to provide for his family. Troy, one-time home run king of the Negro Baseball League, grapples with his past and his youngest son, Cory Maxson.

Cory, an emerging football star, sees the world through very different eyes. Troy must come to terms with his past dreams and opportunities that were denied to him due to the color barrier, or risk tearing his family apart.

“What I love about this play is that it makes you think of your culture, other people’s culture and the diversity, because we are living in a time that is very relevant,” said stage manager Karen Ashley. “I am so happy we are doing this.”

Director of the production Valorie Grear said that she decided to direct the play because it is an important work that speaks to a diverse audience as well as students.

The characters of the play include: Troy Maxson (Lester Purry), wife Rose Maxson (Victoria Rene Hubbard), best friend Jim Bono (Stan McDowell) , youngest son Cory Maxson (Jean Hyppolite), brother Gabriel Maxson (Cliff Ingram), eldest son Lyons Maxson (Kevin Linell) and 8-year-old daughter Raynell Maxson (Kiarra Beasley).

Wilson’s play provides insight into a time period when discrimination was rampant against people of color and it inspires everyone to see the heart of the human spirit, Grear said.

“When I read this play I understood something that I have not understood before, and I have experienced something that I have not experienced before and become immersed in a work that had the power to change me after I read it,” Grear said.

McDowell explained how Wilson’s plays are unique  in that he shows something that hasn’t been seen on television or even in movie theaters.

“It’s a play that actually gives voice to African Americans during a time period when they haven’t had a voice. That’s the great thing about it because he does it in an artistic and powerful way,” McDowell said.

Actress Hubbard loves that this play is multifaceted and that there are lots of colors within the show that compels the audience to feel a lot of different things. She mentions that the relationship between Rose and Troy will be a familiar sight for viewers.

“As an audience member, I believe everyone will walk away from this particular play being able to relate to a lot of the ups and downs that Rose has encountered with Troy, but most importantly the forgiveness and the undying love for her husband,” Hubbard said.

Purry, who has been cast in numerous adaptations of Wilson’s work, said Wilson writes about every man and women in his stories.  

“What I think is unique about Troy is, the same that is unique of all the characters, that they really are for real when you read and perform them,” Purry said. “You actually feel, see, and here real people that either you have known or know because they remind you of someone in your family or in your neighborhood, regardless of your ethnicity.”

“Fences” will be presented on Friday, Dec. 2 and continue through Sunday, Dec. 11 in the Performing Arts Mainstage. Tickets priced at $12 for students, $15 for senior citizens and $18 for general admission can be purchased on brownpapertickets.com