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People's Light & Theatre Opens 40th Season with August Wilson's FENCES Tonight

People's Light & Theatre opens its 40th Anniversary Season with August Wilson's Fences running tonight, September 10-October 5, 2014 on the Leonard C. Haas Stage. Kamilah Forbes directs. People's Light & Theatre is located at 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, PA 19355. For tickets call 610.644.3500 or visit

Zak Berkman, Producing Director at People's Light, comments "Our anniversary season consists of plays that share a profound appreciation for history, how it haunts us, transforms us, and connects us to something more deeply human and spiritual. There is no more iconic example of this than Fences. It is a poetic, provocative, accessible, and rigorous exploration of the American Dream, of the obstacles between generations amidst our ever-stretching, constantly-confining landscapes of oppression. "

August Wilson is best known for his "Pittsburgh Cycle," a series of 10 plays with one play set in each decade of the 20th century. This cycle has garnered numerous prestigious awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes and nine Tony Award nominations for Best New Play. Fences is the most-renowned of the cycle and continues People's Light's investment in Wilson's work that began with the successful 2012 production of Seven Guitars.

Set in 1957, the play takes place in the yard of the Maxson household in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, PA. Troy, once a renowned baseball player in the Negro Baseball League, is now a garbage man that has just asked his boss why Black employees can't drive the trash trucks. Embittered but informed by a society that has held back his life's potential, he prevents his son Cory, a talented athlete, from playing football and blocks his chance at being recruited by a college team. Troy is a man of uncompromising strength, but struggles to fulfill his role as father to his son and husband to his wife. Fences depicts the complex dynamics that both tear families apart and hold them together. Director Kamilah Forbes says, "Wilson has a really beautiful way of painting and honoring Pittsburgh and his hometown. Not just the landscape, where the town is a kind of character, but also the colorful and unique community members within it. And he does it with such honor and such grace and love." Forbes is the Producing Artistic Director of Hi-ARTS (formerly known solely as the Hip-Hop Theater Festival) in New York City.

"This is a story about Troy - about dreams deferred, dreams lost, dreams transferred and/or re-interpreted," Forbes adds, "As a country, what we're facing now is this idea of expectations. What are we really due? What is true aspiration vs. what is true entitlement? It's a fine line in a country in which we are sold this idea about the American Dream. So there's something interesting in a character like Troy in the world of Fences and what happens when lines like that are challenged and crossed."

Michael Genet will portray Troy in his People's Light debut. A native of Washington, D.C, Genet has carved out an amazing 35 year career as a star of stage, film and television. He has worked with some of the greatest talents in the industry: from Elton John and Anne Rice, to Viola Davis and Academy Award winners Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx, Eilleen Heckart (Butterflies Are Free) and John Patrick Shanley (Moonstruck). He's a prestigious Eugene O'Neill Playwright's selectee, the winner of the coveted Kennedy Center Award for New American Plays, a prestigious Sundance Screenwriter's Selectee for his critically acclaimed jazz fable, Pork Pie, and the winner of the 2008 NAACP Image Award For Outstanding Writing In A Motion Picture for his work on the classic dramatic comedy, Talk To Me.

People's Light continues its Scoop program, now on Wednesdays. Scoop on Wednesdays: History, Context, and Gossip, is a lively discussion before every Wednesday 7:30 pm performance (September 17 & October 1). Resident Dramaturg Gina Pisasale will host an artist from the production and get the inside scoop about such things as the rehearsal and production process, design choices, and the world of the play. The program begins at 6:00 in The Farmhouse Bistro. Cost of $15 includes light fare. Call the Box Office at 610.644.3500.

Enjoy a prix fixe dinner and a show package for $73 (Wed, Thurs, Sat matinee, Sun eve) and $82 (Fri, Sat eve, Sun matinee) at The Farmhouse Bistro prior to Wed-Sun evening performances. That's a savings of up to 15% off the single ticket price! If you already have tickets, you can add dinner for just $37. Dinner and a show packages are available through the box office or online at

Fences previews on Wednesday, September 10 and Thursday, September 11 at 7:30 pm and Friday, September 12 at 8 pm. The play opens on Saturday, September 13 and runs through Sunday, October 5. Audiences are encouraged to join the artists for a conversation about the production after the Thursday performances on September 18 and 25 and October 2.

Single tickets: $27 - $47. For tickets, call the Box Office at 610.644.3500. Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For more information or to purchase group tickets, call 610.647.1900 x111 or email

7-play subscription packages for the 2014-2015 Season are available for purchase and start at $154. Productions include Fences (September 10-October 5, 2014), Row After Row (October 15-November 9, 2014), Arthur and the Tale of the Red Dragon: A Musical Panto (November 19, 2014-January 11, 2015), The Cherry Orchard (February 11-March 8, 2015), Biloxi Blues (April 29-May 24, 2015), How to Write A New Book for the Bible (June 3-28, 2015), and Stella & Lou (July 15-August 23, 2015). The Discovery Series packages for children ages 5-12 start at $54 and include Arthur and the Tale of the Red Dragon: A Musical Panto (November 19, 2014-January 11, 2015), and Jason and the Argonauts (March 12-April 4, 2015). The Teen Series for children ages 12-19 includes Fences, Arthur and the Tale of the Red Dragon: A Musical Panto, The Cherry Orchard, and Biloxi Blues. Visit or call 610-644-3500 to order.

Actors, prices, productions, performance dates and times are subject to change. Additional service charges will apply. Contact the Box Office for more details.

ABOUT PEOPLE'S LIGHT - Now in its 40th season, People's Light, a professional, not-for-profit theatre in Chester County, Pennsylvania, makes plays drawn from many sources to entertain, inspire, and engage our community. We extend our mission of making and experiencing theatre through arts education programs that excite curiosity about, and deepen understanding of, the world around us. These plays and programs bring people together and provide opportunities for reflection, discovery, and celebration. Founded in 1974, we produce seven to nine plays each season, in two black box theatres with 340 and 160 seats respectively, mixing world premieres, contemporary plays, and fresh approaches to classic texts for our 7-Play, Discovery, and Teen Series.


Kamilah Forbes

Broadway (Associate Director): Holler If Ya Hear Me, Tony Award-winning Raisin in the Sun, Lucky Guy, Stickfly, The Mountaintop, Def Poetry Jam on tour (Tour Director). Most recently: Sunset Baby (Labyrinth Theater Company) New York Times Critics Pick, Circle Unbroken by Sekou Sundiata (651 Arts), Billy and the ZooLoos by Lynn Nottage (Summer Stage) Marvin Gaye Tribute with John Legend (Kennedy Center), Wanted (PS122), And Her Hair Went With Her (NJ Rep Theater), Scourge (Yerba Buena, 14 city international tour), Masquerade (Roger Bonair-Agard), Rhyme Deferred (conceived and co-wrote, The Kennedy Center). She has also worked at: Lincoln Center Theater, Public Theater, Lark Play Development, and Arena Stage. She is the Producing Artistic Director of Hi Arts NYC/Hip Hop Theater Festival. Producer of Peabody Award-winning HBO's Def Poetry Jam, Executive Producer of HBO's Brave New Voices. She is a Sundance Institute Fellow and League of Women in Theater Josephine Abady Award recipient. She studied at the British American Drama Academy, Oxford England. BFA, Howard University.

Melanye Finister

People's Light: The Winter's Tale, Seven Guitars, The Return of Don Quixote, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Something You Did, Fabulation, and The Member of the Wedding. Theatre Includes: Wilma Theater, Arden Theatre Company, Flashpoint Theatre Company, InterAct Theatre Company, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Venture Theatre and The Walnut Street Theatre. Training: BFA, Carnegie Mellon University. Melanye is a Teaching Artist and resident company member at People's Light since 1991 and a board member at PlayPenn.

Wendell Franklin
People's Light debut.

Theatre includes: Duke Solinas in A Comedy of Errors and Helicanus in Pericles at Illinois Shakespeare Festival; Lyons in Fences at Arkansas Repertory Theatre; Macon in Gee's Bend at Cleveland Play House; Walter Lee in A Raisin in the Sun at Virginia Stage Company and Weston Playhouse Theatre Company; Willie in Master Harold... and the Boys at the Weston Playhouse; Jerome Kisembe in Ruined at La Jolla Playhouse, Huntington Theatre Company and Berkeley Repertory Theatre; The Desire at the Billie Holiday Theatre; Speak Truth to Power at the Culture Project; and workshops of Dominique Morisseau's Skeleton Crew at The Lark and Sundance Theatre Lab. Wendell currently is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at the Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania.

Michael Genet
Troy Maxson
People's Light debut

Theatre Includes: Broadway: A Few Good Men, Hamlet, Lestat; Off-Broadway: Dance Of The Holy Ghost, A Soldier's Play, The Colored Museum, Resurrection, Seven Guitars, The Oedipus Plays. Film/TV: One Fine Day, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, She Hate Me, Booty Call, 25th Hour, Hallelujah, Taxi Brooklyn, Ugly Betty, Law & Order, Tyler Perry's House of Payne, All My Children, As The World Turns. Writer: Hallelujah (American Playhouse), She Hate Me (w/Spike Lee), Talk To Me (Focus Features), Pork Pie (Denver Center Theater). Awards: The Kennedy Center Award For New American Plays (Pork Pie), the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing In A Motion Picture (Talk To Me). Mr. Genet is the author of the critically acclaimed They Must Not Know Who I Think I Am: Lessons in Defiant Resilience.

Cameron Hicks
People's Light debut

Cameron has attended People's Light's Summerstage and Theater School Classes for the past 2 years. She enjoys playing surgery games online, spending time with family including Oreo, the family dog and learning about the theater. Cameron is excited about her budding career and thanks the staff of People's Light for helping her live her dream.

Ruffin Prentiss
People's Light debut

Theatre Includes: Time Sensitive (Guthrie Theater), White Lillies (Crossroads Theatre), Radio Golf (Kuntu Repertory Theatre), Twelfth Night (Allentown Shakes.); New York Credits: Measure for Measure (Epic Theater Ensemble), Fati's Last Dance (Billie Holiday Theatre), Beautiful Hands (Theatre Row). TV: Power. Training: BA in Theater Arts from the University of Pittsburgh, MFA from Rutgers University.

G. Alverez Reid
Peoples Light debut

Theatre includes: Off- Broadway: The Fabulous Miss Marie starring Tonya Pinkins (New Federal Theatre/Castilo Theatre), Off-Off Broadway: Questa ( Wings Theatre), Regional: Fences (McCarter Theatre Center, Long Wharf Theatre), Broke-ology (Theatre Alliance), Gem of The Ocean (Hangar Theatre), Locomotion (The Kennedy Center), A lesson Before Dying (African Continuum Theatre Company), Seven Guitars (Studio Theatre). Training: BFA, College of Fine Arts at Howard University and the British American Dramatic Academy at Oxford University.

Brian Anthony Wilson
Jim Bono

People's Light: Seven Guitars, Nathan the Wise, Eggs, and Les Trois Dumas. Theatre Includes: Henry IV: Your Prince and Mine (SCP), Man of La Mancha (Act 2) and Water By The Spoonful (Arden). This is Brian's tenth August Wilson Production, third time with Fences: Gabriel (Bushfire * Barrymore Nomination) & Lyons (Arden/Actors Theatre of Louisville). Film/TV: Crooked & Narrow, Franny, When The Moon Was Twice As Big, Limitless, Time, Myra's Angel, Zombie Killers: Elephant's Graveyard, 6 Souls, Assumption of Risk, Law Abiding Citizen, Keeping The Faith, The Postman/Broad City, Do No Harm, Unforgettable, Onion Sports Dome, Law & Order: SVU, The Sopranos, The Wire.

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