Florida Repertory Theatre is presenting August Wilson’s “Fences,” the multiple Tony Award-winning Best Play and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for drama, January 11-30 in the Historic Arcade Theatre, 2267 First St, Fort Myers, FL 33901. The run includes four nearly-sold out preview performances, January 8-10.
August Wilson’s celebrated American Century Cycle captures 100 years of African American life during each decade of the 20th century. The cycle begins in the early 1900s, when wounds from slavery and the Civil War were still fresh, and closes in the 1990s when even a large and increasingly influential black middle class would not escape persistent racial tensions. “Fences” is Wilson’s offering for the 1950s, and like many of the plays in his Cycle, it takes place in Pittsburgh’s Hill District.
The modern American classic follows Troy Maxson, a former star of the Negro leagues now struggling to support his family as a trash collector in 1957 Pittsburgh. Excluded from the major leagues during his prime, Troy’s bitterness takes its toll on his relationships with his wife and teenaged son, who now has his chance to become a star athlete.
Florida Rep has assembled an A-list cast of Broadway and regional actors, many of whom have appeared numerous times in “Fences” and other American Century Cycle plays before this.
Mujahid Abdul-Rashid (Florida Rep debut) plays Troy Maxson for the third time in Florida Rep’s production, most recently with Short North Stage in Columbus, Ohio. Gayle Samuels (Florida Rep debut) is cast as Rose Maxson after her appearance earlier this year in the Broadway revival of “Children of a Lesser God” directed by Kenny Leon. Also in the cast as Troy’s longtime friend, Bono, is John Archie, whose appearances at Florida Rep include “Dividing the Estate,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and the 2017 PlayLab Festival. Brian D. Coats (Florida Rep debut) plays Gabriel in Florida Rep’s “Fences,” after a recent Broadway appearance in August Wilson’s “Jitney,” the last of the American Century Cycle plays to open on Broadway and at Two River Theater as Stool Pigeon in “King Hedley II.”
Daniel Morgan Shelley plays Troy’s older son, Lyons, after recent appearances in Florida Rep’s PlayLab Festival and the theatre’s 2007 co-production of “Romeo and Juliet” with the Classical Theatre of Harlem. Recent Emerson College graduate, Marc Alexander Pierre also makes his Florida Rep debut as Troy’s youngest son, Cory, and local actress, Johnieann Smith (Bayshore Elementary), appears in her second Florida Rep production after appearing in 2017’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Smith is understudied by another of Florida Rep rising stars, JoLe Peynado (Fort Myers Christian School).
One of the country’s preeminent directors of Wilson’s work, Benny Sato Ambush (Florida Rep debut), directs Florida Rep’s “Fences,” and is joined by Ensemble Set Designer Richard Crowell (Florida Rep’s “Outside Mullingar”), Costume Designer Danielle Preston (Florida Rep debut), Ensemble Lighting Designer Todd O. Wren (Florida Rep’s “Tenderly”), Sound Designer Katie Lowe (Florida Rep’s “Damascus”), and Stage Manager Lisa Lamont, returning to Florida Rep after her work in the company’s early years.
August Wilson’s “Fences” is generously sponsored by WGCU Public Media. The Media Sponsor is Lee Pitts Live on FOX 4.
Tickets are priced at $55 and $49 for regular performances and $35 and $29 for discounted previews and are available online at www.FloridaRep.org and through the box office at 239-332-4488. Subscriptions start as low as $99 for three plays and offer the best seats and the most significant savings, and are available through the box office. Box office hours are Monday through Friday, 10 AM – 5 PM. New this season, Florida Rep’s parking lot will open 2 hours before each performance and offers guests limited free parking across the street from the Arcade Theatre.
Performances in the Historic Arcade Theatre are Tuesday-Thursday at 7 PM; Friday and Saturday at 8 PM; and Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2 PM. The theatre’s regular preview schedule is different for Fences ONLY, and the weekday matinee for that week only is Thursday, January 10th. Previews for August Wilson’s “Fences” are January 8 at 7 PM, January 9 at 7 PM, and January 10 at 2 PM and 7 PM.
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
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