“Troy is flawed. Bu he is honest and honorable with his words and deeds,” said Smith. ”He has a code of honor, which he breaks and regrets. He is a man most of us would respect and befriend. But at the same time, there are Fences he creates between he and his wife, his two sons and others. Those fences will eventually come down, not until the very end of his life and they reveal much about the man and what his life means to them.”
One of those postmortems revelations is his tryst with another woman, despite his devotion to his wife.
Before those fences were erected Jim Bono was a close friend and confidant of Troy’s starting during their time in prison. Bono is being played by Hampton Roads native thespian Rodney Suitor.
Suitor directed “Fences” and Wilson’s “Seven Guitars” and is highly respectful of the playwright’s message projected in his work.
“Bono is one of the key characters because he is closer to Troy than any person other than his wife,” said Suitor. “The relationship was formed through trust and shared code conduct which help them survive. What they share creates a bond as strong as that we have for our family, which can get tense and complicated.”
Rose is Maxson’s wife, played by Tonye Patano. Rose is not only his spouse, but backbone – “the spine” of his existence.
The award-winning actress said Wilson based Rose on his mother who like most Black women of that time were strong and selfless; the “backbone” of their men and families.
“Rose is a strong and self reliant woman who has given up a lot of herself…in return she receives the love she needs,” said Patano. ”She gives enough of herself to love and support Troy. Despite his meager income, she is able to have the luxury, what many woman then and today did not have, the ability stay at home and be wife and mom which sustained him. She reminds him of her role and personal regard every day. They have their conflicts, as couples do, but they respect each other’s strengths, roles and contributions; factors they both need to survive.
Troy and his friends are fenced in on the “The Hill” in 1950’s segregated Pittsburgh where they enjoy their lives and culture away from the hostile white world and its threats real an imagined.
There are also Troy’s two sons: Lyons, played by Charlie Hudson, III; and Corey, played by Johnathan Majors.
And then there is Gabriel Troy’s brother, played by Geoffrey Williams, whose body and brain are wracked by wounds from his experiences in war.
The man who weaves all of the components of the play together is director Derrick Sanders, who recently worked on the acclaimed award-winning production of “Jesus Hopped the A Train in Pittsburgh.”
“I am not one to sit back. I like to get in there and work with the actors on developing who are they are on stage,” he said. ”August Wilson really has some very powerful stories to tell our people. And he uses some very powerful words which come out the mouths of the actors who utter them.
“‘Fences’ projects larger than life characters who are honorable, strong but flawed. I think we can see ourselves at one point in all of his plays and characters because he is telling the truth and depth of our story in each one of his works.”