Monday, January 22 , 2018, 8:17 am | Fair 40º


Gerald Carpenter: PCPA Ends Season with ‘Fences’

The Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts (PCPA) brings its 53rd season to a close with a new production of August Wilson’s Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning play, Fences (1985). which runs in the Marian Theater in Santa Maria Sept. 15 through Oct. 1.

The play is directed by Timothy Bond, with fight direction by Mark Booher, sets by Jason Bolen, costumes by Deb Trout, lighting by Tim Thistleton, and music by Michael G. Keck. Ellen Beltramo is the production's stage manager.

Fences stars Derrick Lee Weeden, Karole Foreman, Michael J. Asberry, Satchel Andre, Michael G. Keck, Chris Mansa and Kandace Flowers.

Fences is part of Wilson's celebrated 10-play Pittsburgh Cycle, which dramatizes, decade-by-decade, a century of African American experience.

The drama comes in the middle of the cycle, and chronicles the challenges faced by one Troy Maxson, a former star of the Negro baseball leagues, who now works as a garbage man in 1957 Pittsburgh.

"As a black man excluded from the major leagues during his prime," says PCPA, "Troy's inner conflicts take their toll on his relationships with his wife and his children as they look for their own chances to fulfill their dreams."

Bond, who has directed seven of Wilson’s Century Cycle plays, said, “Mr. Wilson is considered by many to be the American Shakespeare.

"His American Century Cycle [aka Pittsburgh Cycle], exploring the heritage and experience of African Americans, decade-by-decade, over the course of the 20th Century, is one of the monumental feats in the history of theater.

"The design team’s focus has been about capturing the gritty truth and poetic blues-scape of the Maxson Family household, which consists of an ancient two-story brick house in a dirt yard in the hill district of Pittsburgh in 1957," Bond said.

"I am very excited about our stellar cast led by the amazing Derrick Lee Weeden and Karole Foreman as the unforgettable characters of Troy and Rose Maxson," he said. "The contagious humor, brilliant storytelling, powerful dialogue and soulful songs make Fences an unforgettable American Classic.

"It is significant to me to be telling this story in the post-Obama Era in America, when many people in this nation are reawakening to the reality that there is still much work to be done to equal the playing field for people of color and women," Bond said.

"As a person of color, I have also faced racial discrimination in a number of ways throughout my life and live with those scars," he said.

"I believe that by exploring African-American perspectives and culture, and examining America’s legacy of racial discrimination, all Americans have a chance to holistically proceed into the future,” Bond said.

August Wilson (1945-2005) is a classic example of a self-taught child who wound up writing his way out of poverty and prejudice into glory and well-derserved immortality. During his teen years, he left high school to get a job to help his mother take care of himself and his siblings.

He spent his off-time in the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, reading the great black writers: Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, and others.

His writing gift showed itself early, and he never seriously considered any other career. But his heroic biography, admirable as it is, is not what brought audiences and awards to his plays: they are great plays, which make people laugh and cry, make them angry and inspired.

"Can I do this, and cannot get a crown? Tut! Were it further off I'd pluck it down."

Marian Theatre is at 800 S. College Drive, Santa Maria (GPS 870 S. Bradely Road, Santa Maria). Tickets to Fences are $31.50-$41.50 and can be purchased by calling 922-8313, or online at

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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