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August Wilson

Having seen “Fences“, starring Denzel and Viola Davis, I have to admit that the film moved me so much that I have started telling others even using the word  “Profound”, challenging them to watch it themselves and hear their perspectives. Having seen Denzel Washington promote the film, initially I only caught that the film’s main theme was about Troy Maxson’s (Denzel’s character) challenges with his son’s Corey pro football ambitions as he tried to placate with an apparent selfish wisdom for him to seek a trade that would secure his future rather than become the part broken man he had, as his dreams to become a professional baseball player was thwarted by the racism of the day. That wasn’t even the tip of the iceberg. Set in the 1950’s, Fences is a story of the black male narrative, where the head of the household reconciles his life in relationship to his wife, his offspring, his brother who is perceived to have mental issues, his own past, close friends, his work, society and his spirituality. The way this story is weaved, rhythmically with the dialogue between seven characters gives a piercing insight into the thoughts and expression of a man, woman, husband, father, son, friend, brother who live in a world within a world, that is not often seen on the big screen.

The film introduced me to the playwright August Wilson. Doing my cursory research of August Wilson’s history, his back story reads of an accomplished man with a complex background and narrative of an incredibly talented man, who body of work spoke for itself and only late in life began to get the recognition he deserved.

Author of other celebrated and award winning plays such as Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Seven Guitars, Fences, Joe Turners Come and Gone, some of his work that makes up the Pittsburgh Cycle (a play for every decade in the 20th Century). Wilson on the evidence of how good Fences is, totally deserves his accolades, and his work is no doubt on its way to becoming more widely appreciated by successive generations, now that Fences the film adaptation has achieved a major Hollywood success with Viola Davis winning Best Supporting Actress playing Rose Maxson, opposite to Denzel Washington’s Troy.

Legend has it that the screenplay adapted by August Wilson from his broadway award winning play was handed personally to Denzel who read the script and demanded that he do the play. This play is truly the stuff of legend. On the back of this success, it is anticipated the rest of the Pittsburgh Cycle is on its way to becoming Hollywood backed productions.