When you think of theater, you don’t automatically think about Fayetteville State University. But that’s where you make a mistake.
FSU has a growing theater department that is committed to bringing a wide variety of plays to the community each year. Its most recent offering, Fences, will be on stage Nov. 18-20.
Directed by Dr. Harmon Watson, chair of the Performing and Fine Arts Department, Fences, written in 1983 is authored by African-American playwright August Wilson. Set in the 1950s, it is the sixth play in Wilson’s 10-part Pittsburgh Cycle. Like all of the Pittsburgh plays, Fences explores the evolving African-American experience and examines race relations, among other themes.
The production won a Tony Award for Best Play, Best Actor in a Play for James Earl Jones, Best Direction of a Play, as well as the Drama Desk Award, Outstanding New Play, Outstanding Actor in a Play (Jones) and Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play (Mary Alice). This year the Broadway revival of the production won Tony Awards for Best Revival Play, Best Actor in a Play for Denzel Washington and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for Viola Davis.
The play begins on payday, with Troy Maxson and Jim Bono drinking and talking. Troy has made a formal complaint to his bosses that only white men are permitted to drive the garbage trucks for the waste disposal company at which both men work. The two men finish their discussion of work, and Bono asks Troy about a woman, Alberta, he suspects Troy of seeing. Troy denies that he would risk losing his wife, Rose, but Bono does not give up so easily and reminds Troy that he has been seen at Alberta’s house when he said he was elsewhere.
The conversation is interrupted when Troy’s son Lyons who arrives to ask his father for money. Troy gives his son a hard time, but eventually gives him the $10 requested. Eventually, it is revealed that Troy has been having an affair with Alberta, whom the audience never sees throughout the play. Alberta gets pregnant and dies giving birth to Raynell, the daughter conceived from their affair. Troy’s wife Rose accepts the duty of being Raynell’s mother when Alberta dies in childbirth. Troy and Rose have another son, Cory, who against his father’s wishes, plays football and temporarily leaves his job during the football season. This infuriates Troy, who eventually kicks Cory out of the Maxson home. During the fi nal act of the play, Troy dies. His daughter Raynell is seen as a happy 7-year-old; his son Cory comes home from war, and initially refuses to go to his father’s funeral due to long-standing resentment. However, Rose convinces him to pay his respects to his father — the man who, though hard-headed and often poor at demonstrating affection, loved his son.
The curtain raises at the Butler Theater at 7:30 p.m.
For more information, call 672-1006 or visit the FSU Theatre website www.uncfsu.edu/theatre/fsu_drama_guild.htm. For reservations contact FSU’s Ticket Manager, Antoinette Fairley, at 672-1724.