25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There Will Be Better Days
Fences, by August Wlison, is a play that potrays the many roles of an African-American family that lives during a difficult period of time when Africans were being segagrated. In the play, Rose Maxosn, a house wife in her early-fortys, has a difficult time handling her family. She always finds herself battling between the decisions that her husband, Troy Maxson, makes and...
Published on January 9, 2001
17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fences: Responsibilites
"Every right implies a responsibility, every opportunity, an obligation, every possession, a duty." This is how one man by the name of John D. Rockefeller Jr. interprets the term "Responsibility". It is the quality by which one is dependable. The way one chooses to deal with the course of their actions. Different people handle their responsibilities in different manors...
Published on November 15, 2001 by dramaly
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There Will Be Better Days,
A Kid's Review
Fences, by August Wlison, is a play that potrays the many roles of an African-American family that lives during a difficult period of time when Africans were being segagrated. In the play, Rose Maxosn, a house wife in her early-fortys, has a difficult time handling her family. She always finds herself battling between the decisions that her husband, Troy Maxson, makes and with what she thinks is right. Throughout the play, life for Rose was a graet challenge, but even though the pain was great, she always holds her head up high and waits for better days. This play teaches us that being able to forgive and go on with your life potrays a lot of who you really are inside. When this script was placed in my hands, my head ached to the thought of having to read another boring book. To my surprise, when it was read out loud with great feeling, my heart jumped with excitment and joy. After I had gotten a sense of the characters feelings and language, I was unable to put it down. This book reached out to me like no other book has ever done before. The way that Rose was able to forgive so many inappropiate acts is very astonishing to me. I franckly admire Rose for being able to be a strong women and for sticking to what she says. I wish that everyone that reads this script is able to take a bit of sweetness from Rose.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars August Wilson's, "Fences",
"Fences," by August Wilson, is a wonderful mix of drama and comedy that emphasizes the tribulations and confusions people were going through, during the changing sixties. In this two-act play, Troy Maxson is a middle-aged African American who is struggling to raise a son, keep a family together and deal with the new desires and needs everybody is beginning to feel as social standards slowly begin to change. As a child growing up, Troy did not have a great father figure, and he was not able to persue his dream of becoming a great baseball player as he grew older, because of racial limitations of the time period. Now as things begin to change for the better, he is still afraid of these limitations and overcoming them. His son wants to play football, but Troy doesn't want him to. He wants him to get a job and become good with his hands. As he refuses to let his son play, he pushes him away. He begins to push his wife away too, because he feels he needs his own space and has new desires. This play becomes a struggle for Troy to try to pass on morals he thinks are right and to be a proud man in a time where hatred is strong and boundaries are being broken. Troy Maxson is having to change his ways according to change and he grew up doing what he could to survive, so changing after so many years of living a certain way to survive is harder than anything he has had to deal with before. Will he come out of it successful?
A wonderful blend of characters, hysterical, beautiful, bold, courageous and passionate; this play is sure to win your favor.
25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Real Characters in a Real Situation,
From the opening scene we as audience members are dropped whole into the world of the characters in August Wilson's classic play. The dialect of the characters, the hints of jargon, and the references that aren't explained but simply ARE allow us to be immersed in his setting. This back porch, with its visible foibles (exposed icebox, half-built fence) make Troy Maxson, his family, and his friends into new beings that become larger than their own lives--and very like our own lives.
There is nothing in this play we don't all have to face from day to day. Work, marriage, family disputes, mental illness, adultery, violence, and more events populate this play as surely as the characters do. Yet the clear, Sophoclean way they are addressed makes them matter to us in an immediate, powerful way.
The play is broken up into two acts, comprising eleven scenes. The first ten take place over a span of a few months, while the final provides an epilogue some years later. Some modern theatre purists will balk at this many divisions, and yet the way Wilson makes them pop will let an audience that loves theatre to both enjoy and understand what's happening to the characters.
This is a difficult piece of theatrical literature, yet one of the most important and compelling of the last twenty years. For all its faluts (slipshod editing, internal contradictions, great length) it remains a valuable play, and one that hasn't received nearly the acclaim it deserves.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better Times Are Coming?- "Never Should Of Been No Too Early",
The first couple of paragraphs of this review have been used as introduction to other August Wilson Century Cycle plays as well.
Okay, blame it on the recently departed Studs Terkel and his damn interview books. I had just been reading his "The Spectator", a compilation of some of his interviews of various authors, actors and other celebrities from his long-running Chicago radio program when I came across an interview that he had with the playwright under review here, August Wilson. Of course, that interview dealt with things near and dear to their hearts on the cultural front and mine as well. Our mutual love of the blues, our concerns about the history and fate of black people and the other oppressed of capitalist society and our need to express ourselves politically in the best way we can. For Studs it was the incessant interviews, for me it is incessant political activity and for the late August Wilson it was his incessant devotion to his century cycle of ten plays that covered a range of black experiences over the 20th century.
Strangely, although I was familiar with the name of the playwright August Wilson and was aware that he had produced a number of plays that were performed at a college-sponsored repertory theater here in Boston I had not seen or read his plays prior to reading the Terkel interview. Naturally when I read there that one of the plays being discussed was entitled "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" about the legendary female blues singer from the 1920's I ran out to get a copy of the play. That play has been reviewed elsewhere in this space but as is my habit when I read an author who "speaks" to me I grab everything I can by him or her to see where they are going with the work. This is doubly true in the case of Brother Wilson as his work is purposefully structured as an integrated cycle, and as an intensive dramatic look at the black historical experience of the 20th century that has driven a lot of my own above-mentioned political activism.
The action of this play takes place in the mid-1950's in a black neighborhood in Pittsburgh (Wilson's home town) as do most of the plays in the cycle. This is the sixth play in the cycle and the first to reflect that notion that some profound changes were in the offing for black people, not all of them good and not all for the better. Both these facts are important in understanding the tensions of the play. Although Wilson's plays are almost exclusively centered in black life as it is lived in the neighborhood the various trials and tribulations of blacks elsewhere are woven into his story line. The white world, for the most part, except as represented by amorphous outside forces that have the access and control of the resources that blacks need to survive and break out of racial isolation are on the sidelines here. And that is as it should be in these plays on the black experience. Moreover, this truly reflects how it has been (and how it still is, notwithstanding the Obamaid) in that outer world.
I labelled this entry with the headline "Better Days Are Coming?" purposefully including the question mark. Surely, some progress toward the goal of racial equality, if not nearly enough, has been made over the last half century since the time period of this play. That is not the question. The real question is posed by the main character, Troy Maxton, who in his time was something of an exceptional baseball player, but who "came too early" to have it change the fortunes of his life. His reply: "ain't nothing should have ever been too early". Wilson hits the nail on the head here. After that remark nothing else really needs to be said.
Wilson's conceptual framework, as I have mentioned previously in a review of his "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom", is impeccable. Placing the scene in 1950's Pittsburgh permits him to give a bird's eye view of that great migration of blacks out of the South in the post-World War II period at a time when they are shaking off those old subservient southern roots. Wilson is also able to succinctly draw in the questions of white racism (obliquely here), black self-help (as in building that damn fence) , black hatred of whites, black self-hatred, black illusion (that the `lifting' of the white boats was going to end, for blacks, the seemingly permanent Great Depression), black pride (through the link with past black historical figures and with the then current hero, Jackie Robinson, although Troy has some cutting remarks on the status of that figure), the influence of the black church (good or bad), black folk wisdom (as portrayed by Jim Bono, who is more grounded in his memories of his southern roots than the others) and, in the end, the rage just below the surface of black existence (as portrayed here by Troy's brother Gabriel's, a character who epitomizes one of the tragic aspects of black male existence) resulting from a world that not was not made by the characters in this play but took no notice of their long suppressed rage that turned in on itself.
Unlike some of the earlier play, however, there is a little ray of hope in the character of Troy's son (by his wife Rose) Cory whose struggle for his own identity with his father and the world is a sub-theme here. As always, if you get a chance go see this play but, please, at least read it. Read the whole cycle.
17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fences: Responsibilites,
"Every right implies a responsibility, every opportunity, an obligation, every possession, a duty." This is how one man by the name of John D. Rockefeller Jr. interprets the term "Responsibility". It is the quality by which one is dependable. The way one chooses to deal with the course of their actions. Different people handle their responsibilities in different manors. Some voluntarily fulfill their duties, others find it a hassle they feel obligated to deal with.
"Fences," by August Wilson, is set in the mid-1960's. The storyline deals with a man and his family as they go through the struggles and conflicts of life.
Troy Maxson, the leading character in the play, is a good example of one who finds his responsibilities to be obligations. Troy is a fifty-three you old, black man who makes his meager living as a garbage man. He and his wife have two children. Troy looks at fatherhood as his duty. He brings home a paycheck, he puts food on the table, and he puts clothes on his childens' backs. He rarely shows any of the affection that one might hope he holds for his children. Perhaps this is because his father never showed him any love.
In Act I Scene I, we see Lyons, Troy's son from a previous marriage, come by to ask ten dollars of his father. His father reluctantly hands him the money after a drawn-out argument over Lyon's jobless lifestyle. Lyons and Troy have two very different views on life. Troy feels that his son, a man of thirty-four years, should be responsible for supporting himself with a steady job. Lyons disagrees, claiming he knows he has to eat, but he has to live too. He feels it is more his responsibility to enjoy life than to worry about where his next meal is coming from.
As the story progresses, we find Troy and Lyons discussing the ways of Troy's father in Act I Scene 4. Troy states that his father "cared nothing about no kids...all he wanted was for you to learn how to walk so he could start you to working." He then goes on to talk of how his father would sit down at the dinner table and eat until he was full enough to give his eleven kids whatever remained. Lyons finds this hard to believe declaring, "everybody care about their kids...that he should have just went on and left". Troy explains that his father knew he was trapped and he felt a responsibility towards his children. Without that, he would have walked out.
One can trace many similarities between Troy's behaviors back to his father's. They both feel the obligation to provide the bare necessities of life for their children. Neither happily volunteers to fulfill their parenthood duties. One difference between the two is that of the feelings Troy has for his children. He loves them, though he may not always express it.
To be responsible is to be able to answer for one's conduct and commitments. There are various ways to go about fulfilling these duties.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fences, a Review by Phillip J.,
A Kid's Review
Fences, by August Wilson, is a drama about what black people were going through during the sixties. This play contains two acts about the life of Troy Maxson, a middle-aged African American who is trying to raise his son, keep his family together, and deal with an ever changing society. One of Troy's problems is that Troy's son, Cory, wants to play football and get a college scholarship. Troy, on the other hand, continues thinking that the white person wouldn't truly allow his son to play. In addition Cory has a job at a grocery store called the A&P and his job interferes with football. Troy deals with this problem by making Cory drop football for his job because Troy wants Cory to have some resposibility. Cory dosen't like Troy for that, but Troy is one of those 'You live under my roof, you live by my rules and when I ask you to jump you say how high!' type of dad. During this play one gets an understanding of the social classes. The white garbage men get to drive the truck while the colored do the lifting; the white person gets all meat in his soup, while the black person gets nothing but vegetables in restaurants. This play was like a documentary of a sixties black family. I think the best way to relate to the people of this play is to act out the play in one's class or at home. I thought is was a good play that seemed realistic and I would recommend this "script," although as a warning, I caution that few people in my class thought it was boring.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the classics of American drama,
The plays of August Wilson afford us the rare opportunity to hear African American History from a unique perspective. In an engrossing manner, he takes a slice from the lives of ordinary people and tells the entire twentieth century history of the Black Experience in America. His greatness as a playwright is his ability to personally tell this history behind the masks of his many rich characters.
"Fences", his masterpiece, focuses on a conflicted man named Troy Maxson who is in the process of building a fence around his yard. With this backdrop, Wilson analogously depicts the numerous metaphorical fences which his protagonist builds around himself at the expense of his relationship with his family. Extending the parable, we see the fence that his wife, Rose, is trying to build around Troy and her family in an attempt to hold them all together.
"Fences" is a brilliant essay on the miscommunication and misunderstandings that inhabit most families and the corresponding regrets that inevitably exhist when it is too late to do anything about it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Moving, Captivating and great,
By A Customer
In this book, August Wilson portrays Troy Maxson as a bitter former baseball player who is basically unhappy with his life. This book shows the amount racism blacks had to deal with in the 60/70's and how infuriated blacks were. Troy, a black from a small town runs away from his family at age fourteen, because he hates his father and everything he does. His father was abusive and unfaithful, and Troy wanted no part in that. Troy has become a product of his environment and feels like he must take his anger out on his family. Yet, when Troy grows up and his own family he deprives his wife and son of everything they want. His wife, Rosa, who is literally a slave to Troy, but she respects him in every way. Troy is so bitter about not getting the chance to play baseball, he refuses to let his son, Corey play high school or college football, for fear his son will live out his fathers dreams. Yet, the only thing he does is build a fence around the home, because Rosa wants him to. For Troy, this is a way to keep out all his fears, but most importantly, death. For Rosa, the fence is to keep her family in, because deep down inside she knows Troy is not happy, but she still wants to keep him in her life. This book is an excellent story of racism and prejudice and one mans struggle to find his place in the world. Troy Maxson, who needs something or someone to make him feel special, forgets all he has and affair fathers a child by another woman. Rosa does not know what to do, so she allows him to live with her, but she has lost all her love for him. Troy's son Corey has lost all his respect for his father, and has one last final confrontation with him, where he shows his disrespect. Troy's reasoning for his actions were selfish and he doesn't think of Rose. He explained to Rose that his mistress gave him a different idea and understanding about his self. Troy was taught to take responsibility for his actions, so he confessed, but his motives were weak. This is a must read for anyone, who wants to learn more about race relations decades ago. The enthralling story line along with the fast paced actions keeps any reader on the edge of their seat.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fences, a complicated story,
A Kid's Review
"Fences", by August Wilson is a mixture of tradgedy and triumph. It shows how real life doesnt always go the way that you expect it to. In this play, cory the son of troy maxon has to get through many problems which are very common with teenagers in the sixities. His father Troy is too controlling of him in his opinion and troy thinks cory needs to take more responsibility. Along with that troy is having to deal with desires that could possibly ruin his family life as he knows it. What will troy do? Tell his wife about his secret or never tell anyone and live with his secret forever. I think that one good thing about this play is that it shows how real life isnt always as good as in the movies. It shows that you can get through a lot in life, no matter what. This play was better thatn i expected it to be. It was very realistic and anyone of any age could read and enjoy this book. I can relate to cory and how he wants to do many extra things other that school even though his father wants him to work and make money. I usually dont like to read books in school because they are boring but this book was actually interesting and kept me wanting to read on. It told you about society in the fifties with out boring you with facts.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I gave "Fences" 4 stars because it was so real.,
By A Customer
I rated "Fences" as one of the most compelling, truly related books I've read this year. I found it interesting and captivating. I enjoy the fact that Troy was taught to take responsibility for his actions. Troy's negative perception of his father is that he doesn't really care about his kids and his only concern is delivering the cotton to his boss. Troy's father is poor sharecropper. Troy learns the same method from his father that responsibility comes first; therefore he teaches his son schoolwork and his after school job comes first. The father doesn't want Cory to become recruited by a college football team. He seems to think there's no life in football and opportunities for him especially being a black man. Another good point is made when Troy stands against the union concerning whites being the only ones driving the garbage truck. It was tough for blacks back then to get a decent job and still be treated fairly. But the world is slowing changing before Troy's eyes Troy has another obstacle he has encountered which deal with the fact that death is approaching and it comes in a form a spirit. He puts up a continuing struggle that doesn't let death overtake him; well, not yet anyway. Troy learns how to overcome death and realize that he can't leave now. Troy is happily married to Rose, his wife, for eighteen blissful years. He takes it for granted and he fools around and produces another child. At this point, I feel that Troy becomes selfish, he doesn't think of Rose. His excuses that he provided to Rose were poor and selfish. He explained to Rose that his mistress gave him a different idea and understanding about his self. Rose was very heartbroken that he fooled around on her and produced another child. My understanding of this activity occurred frequently in relationships in the south. This book brings a kind of black comedy that tells and relates back in the old days. As far as how difficult it was for blacks trying to make a decent living plus the upbringing of their children. It also focus on how some men are still having outside families and relationships being married. This type of behavioral of men makes it very difficult for women to trust men in today's society. So in essence nothing has changed for females, but it has gotten better for human rights.
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Fences by August Wilson (Paperback - February 5, 2010)
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