“Fences”, a Playwright by August Wilson

Pages: 2
Words: 681

Fences, a playwright by August Wilson, is a modern classic that describes the life of African Americans in the United States in the 1950s and reveals all the challenges and struggles people experienced. The drama won a Pulitzer Prize in 1987, and the combination of an emotionally strong plot, bright characters, and a well-built technical setting made the play a famous Broadway show (Wilson, 2019). This paper aims to analyze the drama, critique the performance, script, and technical elements of Fences.

Wilson published ten plays in his Pittsburgh Cycle, united by the place and main topic – the life of African Americans, through which he explored the evolution of race relations and everyday problems of people who strived to achieve their aspirations. Fences describe the life of a household, the head of which is disappointed by how he is treated at work and how the color of his skin determines the course of his career in sports. Indeed, the bitter character of Troy poisons his family, and he does not allow people around him to thrive because no one is allowed to be happy unless he is (Wilson, 2019). Unfortunately, the story is relevant to many families worldwide, and the daily challenges of racial minorities make it even more emotional. The play’s name, Fences, addresses Troy’s wife’s request to build them a house to protect the family; however, Troy makes metaphoric fences around himself as the relationships fail throughout the play.

The script of Fences is not complicated because the place remains the same throughout the play; it has two acts, where the first is built on four scenes and the second on five. The elimination of complicated twists helps the audience stay concentrated on the main topic and better understand the causes and consequences of the protagonist’s actions. The script is based on describing the life events of Troy, the main character, and the dialogues with his family and friends aim to help the audience get to know him. For instance, the conversation between him, his wife Rose, and a friend Bono reveals multiple aspects of Troy’s personality: the desire to dominate, straightforwardness, bitterness in speech, and how he treats his family (Wilson, 2019). The second act shows the sharpest stage of conflict between Troy and Cory, the only person who refuses to obey the bitter man’s rules, which results in a fight and the son leaving the house. Troy keeps poisoning the life of his beloved ones through his actions and begs Death to take him soon; the play ends with his funeral eight years after.

Technical elements of a performance, such as lights, actors’ appearance, and decorations, are developed to place the audience in the Pittsburgh of the 1950s. The furniture, household interior, garden, fences, and the characters’ clothes are typical for the time. Furthermore, how the lights spotted Troy’s monologues helped emphasize the author’s idea that a person who had a dream that could not come true is deeply unhappy (Wilson, 2019). The absence of uplifting music or humorist breaks is also an element to highlight the bitterness of the African Americans’ situation in the 1950s.

Fences can be criticized for the language, multiple dramatic scenes, and the negative portrayal of the main character. However, these aspects made the play realistic and influential on people regardless of their social and racial backgrounds. Fences is a source of information about the life of the 1950s, issues the society experienced, family values, and individual aspirations of different generations (Wilson, 2019). The protagonist’s story enables everyone to think about how their behaviors impact their beloved ones and ask themselves if they build fences around themselves instead of living and adapting to the always-changing conditions.

Fences is an award-winning drama that displays how social issues, inequity, and historical events influence the lives of individuals and their families. The bitter man, Troy, portrays many other people whose dreams were destroyed by external circumstances, leaving them hopeless and deeply unhappy. Although today’s society dedicates recourses to providing diverse populations with equal opportunity, stories similar to Wilson’s play still occur and require attention.


Wilson, A. (2019). Fences. Penguin Publishing Group.