NLT presents award-winning play ‘Fences’
Published 12:01 am Sunday, November 9, 2014
Sometimes dreams are shattered, and that bitterness can be enough to provide drama and laughter.
Those elements will all come together this week as the Natchez Little Theatre presents the Pulitzer Prize award winning production, “Fences.”
The power of “Fences,” and the greatness of it, is that it’s a slice of America and a struggling middle class family that happens to be black, said NLT’s Artistic Director Layne Taylor, who also directs the play.
Email newsletter signup
“This show does transcend race,” he said. “It’s a universal story written by an African American playwright, filled with an African American cast of characters, but it doesn’t have to be.”
“Fences” follows the life of Troy Maxson, portrayed by Terrence Robinson. Maxson is a former star of the Negro baseball leagues who now works as a garbage man in 1957 Pittsburgh.
While in his prime, Maxson was excluded as a Negro from the major leagues. Now, his bitterness takes a toll on his relationships with both his wife and son.
“He blames all of his problems in life on others,” Taylor said.
“He’s never able to let go of the fact that he couldn’t make it to professional baseball.”
Despite Maxson not being able to conquer the dreams of the major leagues, he and his family are living the typical “American Dream,” Taylor said.
“They have a home, he has a secure job and is the first African American promoted to driving garbage trucks,” Taylor said.
Robinson, who has won the NLT’s best debut/actor award for his role in “The Color Purple,” said portraying Maxson has been an adventure.
“This has probably been the most challenging character I’ve played thus far,” Robinson said. “Troy covers the gamut of emotions.”
Robinson said each of the seven characters within the play deal with their own issues, which could move an audience to laugh, cry or applaud.
“Fences” will feature NLT newcomers Chrishaun and Carmetha Cotton. The Natchez married couple decided to make their acting debut, together.
Carmetha, who portrays Maxson’s wife, Rose Maxson, said working with NLT has been a great experience.
“Being a part of this production is hard work,” Carmetha said. “It’s fun, but it’s not easy.”
Both Carmetha and Chrishaun have enjoyed their time working with NLT’s acting veterans.
“It’s been great,” said Chrishaun, who portrays Maxson’s best friend Jim Bono. “It’s nice to work with people who are going to bring out your best.”
Taylor said “Fences” will not only feature laughter, but heavy conflict that comes to a dramatic climax in act two if the play.
“It’s our duty at the theatre to produce quality work, but entertain as well,” Taylor said. “It will entertain all people of all races.”
Taylor said directing “Fences” has been pure enjoyment.
“It’s always a pleasure to work with a cast who takes the project seriously,” Taylor said. “I don’t think anyone has a clue, unless they have been in a show, the amount of time that’s involved with doing a play. When you watch this play, you will not feel that you’re watching people act.”
Other cast members include, NLT veteran Michael Ware as Cory, the son of Troy and Rose; NLT award winning actor Damien Henderson as Lyons, Troy’s son from a previous relationship; NLT award wining actor Benta’ Thomas as Gabriel, a World War II veteran who suffered severe head trauma during the war; and NLT award winning actress Patricia Ware as Raynell, Maxson’s young daughter.
Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets for NLT non-members are $15 and can be reserved by calling 601-442-2233 or purchased online at natchezlittletheatre.org
A benefit performance for the NLT 2015 Summer Youth Workshop Scholarship Program will be 7 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets for the benefit performance are $12.