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Context of Fences

Context of Fences - “Fences” by August Wilson...

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Unformatted text preview: “Fences” by August Wilson Context & Response African­American Drama African­American Drama Only a few examples of A.A. Drama pre­Civil War Gradual gains made late 1800s­early 1900s: The African Theatre, founded by Wm. H. Brown in 1821 Tradition of “Blackface” & “Minstrel shows” Even Abolitionist “Tom Shows” reinforced stereotypes Touring companies: classical, musical & variety acts Black Musicals on Broadway (e.g., “A Trip to Coontown”) Modest playwriting successes (e.g., “The Chip Woman’s Fortune” (1923)) Sympathetic portrayals by O’Neill, Gershwins, P. Green Black actors: Charles Gilpin, Rose McClendon, Paul Robeson African­American Drama (Cont’d) African­American Drama (Cont’d) In 1924, W.E.B. DuBois demanded plays “about us, by us, for us, and near us” Fed. Theatre Project helped seed companies in late 30s Post WWII, more plays dealt with racial issues Harlem Renaissance saw rise of socially­relevant plays Most famous example: “Raisin in the Sun” (1959) Emergence of overt Black Theatre in 1960s & 70s Notable Playwrights: Amiri Baraka, Adrienne Kennedy, Ntozake Shange, Charles Fuller, August Wilson, Anna Deveare Smith, George Woolfe, Suzan­Lori Parks August Wilson (1945­2005) August Wilson (1945­2005) Born & raised in Pittsburgh (Hill District) Faced racial hostility as young person Father: German­immigrant baker Mother: African­American domestic (from NC) Quit high school, but vigorously educated himself Influences: DuBois, A Locke, L Hughes, R Ellison, R Wright Co­founded Black Horizon Theatre in 1968 Moved to St. Paul (1978), founded Playwrights Center Started his “Cycle of 10 plays” in early 1980s Each play to dramatize a decade for African­Americans August Wilson (cont’d) August Wilson (cont’d) 1st Major Success: “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (1982) Relationship with Lloyd Richards at Yale Rep Other Major Plays Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (1984) Fences (1985) The Piano Lesson (1987) Finished the Cycle with “Radio Golf” (2005) Died on October 2, 2005 of liver cancer. “Fences” (1985) Classic Example of Poetic Realism Premiered at Yale Repertory Theatre in 1985 Lloyd Richards, director Opened in NY in 1987 with James Earl Jones Focus on shifting viewpoints among Blacks in 1950s Like “Death of a Salesman” it won the “Tony,” “Pulitzer” and Drama Critics Circle Award Probably, the most celebrated of Wilson’s Cycle ...
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