WSU and Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History Team Up for FENCES Readings Today

WSU and Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History Team Up for FENCES Readings Today

Wayne State University's Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance will present a staged reading of August Wilson's Tony-award winning play, Fences, at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The readings take place at 2 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. tonight, January 25, 2014, and will be free of charge. The staged reading is being presented to celebrate the contributions of African-American artists to the stage.

Fences, a "Best Play" Tony Award winner, is set in Pittsburgh during the 1950s as one of the ten plays from August Wilson's ten-part Pittsburgh Cycle. The play explores the evolving African-American experience and race relations in American. Fences primarily focuses on the family of Troy, an African American in his 50s who was once a great baseball player but unfortunately lived in a pre-Jackie Robinson world and is keeping food on his family's table as a trash-collector. Even in trash collection, Troy must face the color barrier as whites are the only ones permitted to drive the trash collection-truck. Troy continues to fight the color barrier and is fearful that his son will face the same barriers when he is offered a college football scholarship.

Theatre has been an important story-telling tool used for centuries to preserve the human experience and to teach us how to improve as a society. August Wilson uses playwriting to "raise consciousness through theater" and echo "the poetry in the everyday language of black American." As Wilson once told the Paris Review:

"I think my plays offer a different way to look at black Americans... For instance, in Fences they see a garbage man, a person they don't really look at, although they see a garbage man every day. By looking at Troy's life, white people find out that the content of this black garbage man's life is affected by the same things - love, honor, beauty, betrayal, duty. Recognizing that these things are as much part of his life as theirs can affect how they think about and deal with black people in their lives."

To continue celebrating the contributions of African-American artists to the stage, the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance will also be producing In the Red and Brown Water by 2013 MacArthur Fellow, Tarell Alvin McCraney.

McCarney blends West African Yoruban mythology and the African American experience to tell a poetic story of love and choice through the eyes of a young teenage girl, Oya, who struggles with coming of age in the chaotic yet vibrant Louisiana projects. Oya, meaning "the goddess of wind, lightning, fire, fertility, and magic," finds herself forced into an emotionally heart-wrenching decision: to stay with her terminally-ill mother or to chase her dream of becoming a college track star.

In the Red and Brown Water will play at the Bonstelle Theatre February 7th - 16th.

About the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History: Founded in 1965 and located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Midtown Detroit's Cultural Center, The Wright Museum is the world's largest institution dedicated to the African American experience. For more information, visit TheWright.org.

About the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance: Wayne State University's Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance serves students as a nexus of performance, production, and research in the fields of dance, theatre, and performance studies. It provides a wide choice of degree programs that allow students the flexibility to study these disciplines broadly or to concentrate more specifically in performance, design, or management. Each academic year, about 200 undergraduate and graduate students, with the assistance of faculty and staff performs and produces an annual season of 21 plays and dance performances, including high school matinees for nearly 6,000 students. For box office hours and information on performances, tickets, group discounts, and corporate packages, visit the department's website at theatreanddance.wayne.edu. Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 29,000 students.

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