Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bending 'Fences'

"Fences," the play by August Wilson at the Cort Theatre, is attracting some of the biggest buzz on Broadway and not just because Denzel Washington is in it (although that doesn't hurt).

Wilson, who died in 2005, won the Pulitzer Prize for "Fences" in 1987. (He won again for "The Piano Lesson" in 1990.)

Cast members Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Mykelti Williamson and director Kenny Leon, who has Tampa Bay area roots, were among those who participated in a recent Creative Conversation about the work at a conference.

Washington and Davis are both nominated for Leading Role Tony Awards and Henderson has been nominated for his Featured Role. Leon was nominated for Best Director of a Play and the entire work has been nominated for Best Revival of a Play.

Here are their thoughts about "Fences," their roles and August Wilson:

"What's fantastic … is that he writes just about people, in relationships with their wives, with their sons. It's something that's going to touch you, something that's going to move you. Just ordinary people, people going through their lives who are just like us." -- Viola

"I think our play looks more llke America than any other play on Broadway. And I'm proud of that." -- Kenny

"I thought I was too young until I read it and found out i was almost too old. I had never read it. I had seen it, but i had never read it." -- Denzel

"It's [always] a different river, because August really examines relationships …" -- Stephen

"There are no specific physical movements that I had to stick to. Like any great play, it's open to interpretation. The greatest compliment is that they've seen this play before but they're never seen it like this before. That's the testament to a great play." -- Denzel

"Everybody in this room is the truth. And everybody is their version of the truth." -- Stephen

"I'm digging deeply to find out what he meant … the farther you fall, the higher you bounce. " -- Mykelti Williamson

"This was an earlier work. And now that he's completed the cycle, you look back and have a keener focus and a keener eye toward what he was trying to say. My approach to the work is different … how can you inform the work differently." -- Stephen

"Last night, some man screamed out, 'Man, don't do it, Denzel!' When I see those heads go down, I know it's the men in the audience." -- Denzel

"They [the audience] are coming to see this and they're hoping it will shed some light on their lives." -- Kenny

"Don't try to get it right, get it true. August has laid some serious track. " -- Stephen

"Fences" runs through July 11 with limited ticket availability.

-- MKilgore

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