August Wilson: The Writer’s Landscape: The first-ever exhibition dedicated to the life and works of August Wilson is now open! Learn More


Broadway Debut
March 26, 1987
46th Street Theater (now the Richard Rodgers)

Set in 1957, the backyard of a two-story brick house in Pittsburgh becomes the backdrop for the dramatic tension of Fences, and the strained relationship between Troy, a former Negro League baseball player turned sanitation worker, and his wife and son.

Fences is Wilson’s most revered play, exploring themes of social movement, racial relations, and masculine stoicism of the 1950s. Fences would be little without its true tragic hero whose authoritative control of his household does little to win sides with the audience. With that said, Wilson sprinkles in dialogue of Troy’s past as a sharecropper, prisoner, and baseball player, and all of these experiences reflect societal injustice and severe obstacles that mold his life experience. Samuel G. Freedman, author and professor, posits that “most audaciously of all, August Wilson has made America see Troy Maxson, in all his precise and explicit blackness, as one of our fathers.” In doing so, by the close of the curtain, audiences are forced to decide if Troy should ultimately receive their pity after the tragic decisions he makes.

Did you Know?

Fences is Wilson’s most critically acclaimed play. Among its accolades are seven Tony awards including Best Play (1985) and Best Revival (2010), four Oscar nominations including a win for Viola Davis as Rose (2016), and the Pulitzer Prize (1987).

Both James Earl Jones (1985) and Denzel Washington (2010) won Tony awards for their portrayals of Troy.

The film adaptation stars Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, who reprise their roles from the 2010 Broadway revival.


In His Own Words

Let’s get this straight right here...before it go along any further...I ain’t got to like you. Mr. Rand don’t give me my money come payday ‘cause he likes me. He gives me ‘cause he owe me. I don't give you everything I had to give you. I gave you your life! Me and your mama worked that out between us. And liking your black ass wasn’t part of the bargain. Don’t you try and go through life worrying about if somebody like you or not. You best be making sure they doing right by you. You understand what I’m saying, boy?” Troy, Act I, Scene III

August Wilson:
A Writers Landscape

August Wilson: The Writer’s Landscape, the first-ever exhibition dedicated to the life and works of the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, will open in spring 2022. The permanent exhibition will explore the people and places of Pittsburgh, where Wilson was born and raised, and which had a profound impact on shaping his worldview.

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