August Wilson's Fences: A Reference Guide

August Wilson's Fences: A Reference Guide

August Wilson's Fences: A Reference Guide

August Wilson's Fences: A Reference Guide

Synopsis

Fences is the story of a responsible yet otherwise flawed black garbage collector in pre-Civil Rights America who, in Wilson's hands, rises to the level of an epic hero. It has been produced around the world and is one of the most significant African-American plays of the 20th century. This reference is a comprehensive guide to Wilson's dramatic achievement.

Excerpt

August Wilson's Fences: A Reference Guide is a companion piece to what has clearly become the signature play of one of America's most prolific and most gifted writers. The elevated status afforded this 1950s domestic drama is due to a number of rarefied features that have for the last fifteen years endeared it to a national as well as global audience. During its 1987 Broadway run at the 46th Street Theatre, Fences broke the record for nonmusical plays by grossing $11 million during its first year in New York. It went on to garner four Tony Awards, including Best Play, and to earn the prestigious New York Drama Critics Circle Award. It also captured the John Gassner Outer Critics Circle Award and ultimately the Pulitzer Prize.

Apart from its commercial success, however, the importance of Fences may be determined by what it reveals about the changing American psyche as the country continues to grapple with long-standing constructs of race, class, and gender and attempts to situate itself within the twentyfirst century. As a popular nonmusical Broadway play of the late 1980s that featured an entire cast of African Americans, Fences signaled a shift in America's theatrical taste. That shift also involved risk-taking by producers who gradually began to financially back African American plays other than popular cash cow musicals. Just as its predecessor Ma Rainey's Black Bottom proved in 1984, Broadway audiences and, by extension, Americans were more willing to gaze through the window of African American experience and see aspects of their own diverse cultures.

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