Fences (play)

Fences (play)

Infobox Play
name = Fences

image_size = 150px
caption =
writer = August Wilson
characters = Troy Maxson
Jim Bono
Rose Maxson
Cory Maxson
setting = 1950s; Backyard of an urban home in a North American industrial city
premiere = 1983
place = Eugene O'Neill Theater Center
Waterford, Connecticut
orig_lang = English
genre = Drama
subject = a Negro Baseball leaguer, now garbageman, and how his bitterness affects his loved ones
series = The Pittsburgh Cycle:
"Gem of the Ocean"
"Joe Turner's Come and Gone"
"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"
"The Piano Lesson"
"Seven Guitars"
"Two Trains Running"
"King Hedley II"
"Radio Golf"
ibdb_id = 3507

"Fences" is a 1983 play by American playwright, August Wilson. Set in the 1950s, it is the sixth in Wilson's ten-part "Pittsburgh Cycle". Like all of the "Pittsburgh" plays, "Fences" explores the evolving African-American experience and examines race relations, among other themes. The play earned Wilson the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Tony Award for Best Actor for James Earl Jones.


; Troy Maxson: The main character of the play. Married to Rose. Has three children: Lyons, Cory, and, later in the story, Raynell.; Jim Bono: Troy's best friend and obvious "follower" in their friendship.; Rose Maxson: Troy's wife of 18 years, and the mother of Troy's second son, Cory.; Cory Maxson: Troy's son who, against his father's wishes, plays football and temporarily leaves his job during the football season.; Gabriel: Troy's brother who received a substantial head wound in World War II from shrapnel. He is now insane, believing himself to be the archangel Gabriel. Gabriel receives remuneration from the Army, money which Troy takes and uses to build his house. Gabe is significant in the end when he tries to play his trumpet and fails and then dances.; Lyons: Troy's first son who was not mothered by Rose. Troy always has the impression that Lyons only comes around for money.; Alberta: A never-seen woman Troy desires. He cheats on Rose with Alberta because it gets him away from his responsibilities. She dies giving birth to Raynell.; Raynell: Troy and Alberta's baby. Rose accepts the duty of being Raynell's mother when Alberta dies in childbirth, and Raynell is seen at the end of the play as a happy seven-year-old.

Plot synopsis

The play begins on payday, with Troy and Bono drinking and talking. Troy's character is revealed through his speech about how he went up to their boss, Mr. Rand, and asked why black men are not allowed to drive garbage trucks (they are garbage men). Rose and Lyons join in the conversation. Lyons, a musician, has come to ask for money, confident he will receive it.

A few days later, Cory tells Troy that a man from North Carolina will come to talk about Cory's future in football, and that he will be offered a scholarship. Troy was also a sports star when he was younger, a baseball player in the Negro Leagues, only to be disheartened that the Major Leagues began to accept black players only when Troy was too old to play. Troy allows his son to play football only on the condition that Cory keeps his after-school job at the supermarket. Cory, although knowing that this is impossible, accepts Troy's offer.By the next scene, we learn that Troy has won his case and is the first black man to drive a garbage truck in Pittsburgh. As he is boasting to Bono about his past struggles with his father, Cory comes in, enraged because Troy has told the football coach that Cory cannot play football anymore because he didn't keep his job at the A&P. Troy views Cory's insubordination as "strike one." Two more strikes, and Troy will kick him out.

In the next scene, Troy bails Gabriel out of jail after Bono warns Troy about not "messing" with Alberta and sticking with Rose. Troy says he realizes Rose's value, but then admits to her that he is having an affair with Alberta, and she is pregnant. Rose is distraught that she put all her faith in Troy and yet he betrayed her. When Troy grabs her arm, Cory comes from behind him and shoves Troy down. Troy admonishes his son that this act is "strike two" and tells him not to strike out. For the next few months, all Troy does is come home, change, and go to Alberta's house. No one in the family talks to him.

Six months later, Rose receives a call from the hospital. Alberta has given birth to a baby girl, but Alberta has died in childbirth. When Troy comes home with the baby, Raynell, he asks Rose to act as the mother. Rose agrees to this for the sake of the child, but tells Troy that he is now a "womanless man." She leaves, and Troy sits in the entrance to the house. When Cory tries to push his way past him, Troy is enraged and demands that Cory say "Excuse me." Cory then points out that the house is not really Troy's but rather is Gabriel's. The two men fight, trying to hit each other with a baseball bat. Troy doesn't say so, but it is "strike three." Troy wins and expels Cory, and tells him to provide for himself.

The next scene is set seven years later, at Troy's funeral. Cory returns, now a Marine. At first, he refuses to come to Troy's funeral, but after Rose admonishes his rebellion and after he and Raynell sing an old song of Troy's, he concedes. Gabriel comes and tries to open the gates of Heaven, by blowing on his horn. This fails, and the gates only open when Gabriel does a traditional African dance and lets out a cry to the heavens.

Awards and nominations

* 1987 Drama Desk Award for Best New Play
* 1987 New York Drama Critics' Circle Best Play
* 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
* 1987 Tony Award for Best Play



Further reading


External links


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