a man's face in shadows with the text: August Wilson's Fences
August Wilson’s


Co-Presented by Centaur Theatre Company and Black Theatre Workshop
Directed by Mike Payette

CANCELLED – Join us for online conversations about Fences.

April 21 - May 10, 2020
Tony & Drama Desk Awards for Best Play
Pulitzer Prize for Drama
emotionally unmatched among all of Wilson's works, a moving tribute to American men of every skin color
Talkin’ Broadway


When the sins of our fathers visit us
We do not have to play host.
– August Wilson

In this snapshot of 1950s America, the turbulence of the coming Civil Rights Movement is reflected in Troy Maxson’s household. Unlike his own father, Troy works hard to be a faithful husband and reliable provider but the more he tries to protect his family, the more he tears it apart, and building a fence around them isn’t the answer. Wilson’s resilient and passionate characters are so alive we feel their blood course through our veins, their cares and frustrations become our own, and the warmth and laughter that buoy them, open our eyes.


View Fences Online Conversations here.



“In light of the current health crisis, I have had to make the heartbreaking decision to postpone Fences indefinitely. While I and Quincy Armorer (Black Theatre workshop’s Artistic Director) had hoped to delay the production for a month in order that both companies end our respective seasons with this beautiful play, it is abundantly clear that the need for social distancing prevents that. I, and I’m sure all of you, take solace knowing that by doing this and continuing to abide by the mandated social distancing, we are supporting the most vulnerable in our community as well as the front line health care workers who are literally putting their lives on the line for us every day. I cannot say at this moment when we will be able to revive Fences but we are looking for the best way to do that in the future, as amorphous as that is right now.”

– Eda Holmes, Centaur Theatre Artistic & Executive Director


Ryan Allen
Prince Amponsah
Quincy Armorer
Michmahël Aubourg-Clergé
Lucinda Davis
Jahlani Knorren, Cory
Jahlani Gilbert-Knorren
Jeremiah Sparks
Jim Bono

Set & Costume Designer: Rachel Forbes
Lighting Designer: Tim Rodrigues
Music Composer: Kristie Ibrahim
Fight Director: Sylvio Archambault
Stage Manager: Luciana Burcheri
Assistant Stage Manager: Isabel Quintero Faia

Centaur Stage

August Wilson’s Astonishing 10-Play Cycle

Feature by Barbara Ford

The Pulitzer Prize-winning play Fences is just one in a series of ten called the Pittsburgh Cycle, also known as the Century Cycle, which African American playwright August Wilson wrote between the early 1980s and the mid-2000s. The Cycle reveals the 20th century Black experience one decade at a time, and reflects the poetry in the everyday vernacular of Black America. All are set in Pittsburgh’s Hill District except for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which takes place in Chicago.

The Cycle plays are not interconnected as in a serial, however some characters do appear in more than one play – for instance, as children of characters in earlier plays sometimes re-emerge as adults in later plays. Chicago’s Goodman Theatre was the first theatre to produce the entire 10-play cycle in productions from 1986 to 2007.

Wilson tapped into theatre’s power to bring communities together to bear witness to events and attitudes in order to raise awareness. In an interview for The Paris Review in 1999, Wilson said, “I think my plays offer [white Americans] 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.”  

Two years before his death in 2005, August Wilson wrote and performed his unpublished one-man play, How I Learned What I Learned. In it, Wilson revisits his days as a struggling young writer in Pittsburgh’s Hill District and how the neighborhood and its people inspired the Century Cycle plays. 

Decade Title Premiere Awards
1900 Gem of the Ocean 2003
1910 Joe Turner’s Come and Gone 1986 NY Drama Critics’ Circle Award
1920 Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom 1984 NY Drama Critics’ Circle Award
1930 The Piano Lesson 1987 Pulitzer Prize, Drama Desk & NY Critics’ Circle Awards
1940 Seven Guitars 1995 NY Drama Critics’ Circle Award
1950 Fences 1985 Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award & Drama Desk Award
1960 Two Trains Running 1990
1970 Jitney 1982
1980 King Hedley II 1999
1990 Radio Golf 2005 NY Drama Critics’ Circle Award

Intercultural Conversations