University of Louisville Theatre Arts kicks off its 2016-17 season with the Pulitzer Prize winning “Fences,” the 1950s entry in August Wilson’s famed “Pittsburgh Cycle,” Sept. 21-25 in Thrust Theater.
Like all of the “Pittsburgh” plays, “Fences” explores the evolving African-American experience and race relations, among other universal themes. In it, the central character Troy Maxson is a former Negro League homerun king forced into retirement before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1946. A decade later, he struggles as a Pittsburgh garbage man – barely making ends meet. His youngest son, Cory, is a promising high school football star who bears the brunt of the demons that only Troy can see.
The play won every major prize when it debuted on Broadway in 1987, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and added to its award count during the 2010 Broadway revival starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. A film version of the acclaimed Broadway revival is set to air this December.
Baron Kelly, director of UofL’s African American Theatre Program, is directing the production. Kelly has acted in half of Wilson’s 10-play cycle in major regional theaters across the U.S. and will draw heavily from those experiences.
“I wanted to direct this play because I am moved by the complexity and dynamics of black family relationships in the 1950s,” he said. “During that time, choices certain people had to make were limited and sometimes may have seemed socially unacceptable. People like Troy did what they had to do to feed their children and support a family. For example, Troy felt obligated to commit a robbery as a young man.”
Thrust Theatre is located on UofL’s Belknap Campus, 2314 S. Floyd St. All plays start at 8 p.m. with 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday matinees. More information is available online.