Professor Paul Andrews selected this film for inclusion in The Whole Staircase Film Series. As he explains, "It is difficult to overstate the importance of the plays of August Wilson in portraying the African American experience. His cycle of ten plays set in each decade of the 20th century in Pittsburgh’s Hill District – the August Wilson Century Cycle - establishes him as the pre-eminent American dramatist since Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams. Denzel Washington’s film adaptation of Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize winning play Fences, set in the 1950’s, recently has reminded audiences of Wilson’s immense capacity to move us with its themes of perseverance, responsibility, and forgiveness. Wilson’s epigraph to the play is worth including with the film:
When the sins of our fathers visit us
We do not have to play host.
We can banish them with forgiveness
As God, in His Largeness and Laws."
Professor Paul Andrews has taught composition and literature courses at SJR State College since 1992. In addition to freshman composition courses, he teaches creative writing and American and Irish literature courses on the St. Augustine Campus. He is organizing a sixth study abroad program with colleague Chris Killmer, culminating in a trip to The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in June.
Screening Dates and Locations
April 11, 2019 with Professor Paul Andrews Location: St. Augustine Campus Library, room L-112
If you need an interpreter, please email Dr. Will at least 2 days before the event.
Film Information - Fences
"Adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a black garbage collector in 1950s Pittsburgh named Troy Maxson. Bitter about his lot in life, Maxson frequently takes out his frustrations on his loved ones." - distributor's synopsis
Directed by Denzel Washington
Runtime: 139 minutes
This film is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, language, and some suggestive references.
Call Number: St. Johns River/Palatka Circulation -- PS3573.I45677 F4 1986c
Publication Date: 1999-01-01
"Fences in the second major play of a poet turned playwright, August Wilson. One of the most compelling storytellers to begin writing for the theater in many years, he has taken the responsibility of telling the tale of the encounter of the released black slaves with a vigorous and ruthless growing America decade by decade. Fences encompasses the 1950s and a black family trying o put down roots in the slag slippery hills of a middle American urban industrial city that one might correctly mistake for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania." from Introduction by Lloyd Richards.
"August Wilson is generally acknowledged to be the most respected African American playwright. His cycle of plays spanning the decades of the twentieth century have been profoundly influential in the American theatre, and highly acclaimed. "Fences" represents the decade of the 1950s and when it premiered in 1985 it won the Pulitzer Prize. Set during the beginnings of the civil rights movement, it also concerns generational change and renewal, ending with a celebration of the life of its protagonist, even though it takes place at his funeral. Critics and scholars have lauded August Wilson's work for its universality and its ability, especially in "Fences", to transcend racial barriers and earned him the titles of "America's greatest playwright" and "African American Shakespeare." The guide provides a comprehensive critical introduction to "Fences", giving students an overview of the background and context including detailed analysis of the play including its structure, style and characters; analysis of key production issues and choices; overview of the performance history from the first performances in 1985 to more recent productions; and an annotated guide to further reading highlighting key critical approaches."--Publisher description.
Call Number: St. Johns River/Palatka Circulation -- PS3573.I45677 F434 2003
Publication Date: 2003-05-30
"Fences is the story of a responsible yet otherwise flawed black garbage collector in pre-Civil Rights America who, in August Wilson's hands, rises to the level of an epic hero. Deemed a "generational play," it mirrors the classic struggle of status quo, tradition, and age, versus change, innovation, and youth. During its 1987 Broadway run, Fences garnered four Tony Awards, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. It has been produced around the world and is one of the most significant African-American plays of the 20th century. This reference is a comprehensive guide to Wilson's dramatic achievement. The volume begins with an overview of Wilson's aesthetic and dramatic agenda, along with a discussion of the forces that propelled him beyond his potentially troubled life in Pittsburgh to his current status as one of America's most gifted playwrights. A detailed plot summary of Fences is provided, followed by an overview of the play's distinguished production history. The play's historical and cultural background and themes are explored, as is Wilson's dramatic art. The reference closes with a look at the critical and scholarly reception of Fences and a bibliographical essay. Included are rare photos from the play's Broadway premiere and its 1999 premiere in Beijing."--Jacket.
"This stimulating collection of essays, the first comprehensive critical examination of the work of two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson, deals individually with his five major plays and also addresses issues crucial to Wilson's canon: the role of history, the relationship of African ritual to African American drama, gender relations in the African American community, music and cultural identity, the influence of Romare Bearden's collages, and the politics of drama. The collection includes essays by virtually all the scholars who have currently published on Wilson." - publisher's description
"Award-winning African-American playwright August Wilson has created a cultural chronicle of black America through such works as Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Fences, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, and Two Trains Running. He forces readers and audiences to examine the despair generated by poverty and racism by exploring African-American heritage and experiences over the course of the twentieth century." "This literary companion provides the reader with a source of basic data and analysis of characters, dates, events, allusions, staging strategies, and themes from the work on one of America's finest playwrights. The text opens with an annotated chronology of Wilson's life and works, followed by his family tree. Each of the 166 encyclopedic entries that make up the body of the work combines insights from a variety of sources and includes suggestions for further reading. Appendices provide a timeline of events in Wilson's life and those of his characters, and a list of forty topics for projects, composition, and oral analysis."--BOOK JACKET.
H.R.1242/Public Law 115-102, the 400 Years of African American History Commission Act, establishes 2019 as a year of "commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Africans in the English colonies, at Point Comfort, Virginia, in 1619." The commemoration is intended “to recognize and highlight the resilience and contributions of African-Americans since 1619; to acknowledge the impact that slavery and laws that enforced racial discrimination had on the United States; and to educate the public about the arrival of Africans in the United States; and the contributions of African-Americans to the United States.” In recognition of this commemoration and with the Act serving as a guide, the SJR State Library has organized a year-long series of events that will provide educational experiences and resources to students and the community that celebrate the history and culture of African Americans.
Site created and maintained by Dr. Christina Will. Pages will be added and maintained throughout 2019.
Maintenance will cease at the end of 2019 but this site will remain accessible.