Monday, July 10, 2006

A LANDMARK EVENT IN THE AMERICAN THEATRE:

Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett to Star in August Wilson’s Pulitzer and Tony Winning Play


Laurence Fishburne (website) and Angela Bassett (Wikipedia page) will co-star in August Wilson’s Fences at Pasadena Playhouse September 1 through October 1, 2006 (previews August 25 through 31). The two actors recently co-starred in the film Akeelah and the Bee and also worked as co-stars in the hit 1993 film What’s Love Got to do with It?

In 1987 August Wilson stunned Broadway with what many consider the most powerful play in his canon. Leading the cast of Wilson’s tour-de-force was James Earl Jones in what became a landmark performance in a milestone production in the American theatre.

Earlier this year Playhouse artistic director Sheldon Epps announced that a revival of August Wilson’s play would be a part of the theatre’s 2006 season. Epps set about developing a creative team for the production and thinking about casting. “I spoke with Angela (Bassett) about playing Rose (Troy Maxson’s wife) and she was quite intrigued by the idea. We spoke about actors who could fill the immense shoes that are Troy Maxson – one name came to mind for both of us and it was Laurence Fishburne. After seeing Laurence’s towering performance in Without Walls at the Mark Taper Forum I went backstage to congratulate him and asked him if he would join us to bring August’s most profound play back to the stage”. After a few weeks of talks it was settled as the two confirmed their roles.

“This is our way of honoring August – and also the brilliant Lloyd Richards, the director who helped create many of his plays. Fences is one of my favorite plays and what a wonderful way to introduce Playhouse audiences to his work that with this, his most powerful and profound piece. Fences is a beautifully written play and I can’t put into words how I feel to be collaborating with these two fine actors, Angela and Laurence, in this revival,” continued Epps.

Fences earned four Tony Awards, including Best Play, a New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, and the John Gassner Outer Critics' Circle Award in 1987. That same year Wilson was also selected as Artist of the Year by the Chicago Tribune and earned the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Fences.

In the 1970s, August Wilson began writing a cycle of plays, one for each decade of the 20th century. All but one of the plays is set in his birthplace of Pittsburgh's depressed Hill District. The most produced play, Fences, which takes place in the 1950s and 1960s, is what Arthur Miller referred to as "the tragedy of the common man."

Fences takes place in a black tenement in Pittsburgh where Troy Maxson is a former Negro League baseball player turned garbage collector who takes great pride in keeping his family together and providing for them. Troy's rebellion and frustration sets the tone for the play as he struggles for fairness in a society which seems to offer none. In his struggle, he builds fences between himself and family. Troy also wrestles with the idea of death and claims that he sees death as nothing but a fastball, something he can handle.

Fences tickets are $38, $43 and $48 for regular run evening performances (Sat. 9 p.m., Sun. 7 p.m., Tue. through Fri. 8 p.m., including one Wed. 2pm performance), and $50, $55 and $60 for weekend matinee performances (Sat. 5 p.m., and Sun. at 2 p.m.). Tickets are available by calling the Pasadena Playhouse at 626-356-PLAY, by visiting the Pasadena Playhouse Box Office, open from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m. daily excluding holidays and online at Pasadenaplayhouse.org. Group Sales (15 or more) are available by calling 800-378-7021.

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Franco said...
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