Fences is the second major play written by August Wilson which was premiered in 1983. The set of the play was in 1950’s in Pittsburg and was a part of series of play wrote by Wilson. The play won the highly respected Pulitzer Prize for drama in the year 1987. There are many issues which were prevalent in the society during the time of the play which are encompassed and incorporated in the play. The reasons of the play winning the Pulitzer Prize for drama are discussed in the following parts of the paper. August Wilson was born to a white German father and an African American woman from North Carolina. Wilson grew up with his mother in the absence of his father with five other siblings. He grew up in economically depressed neighborhood which was predominated by the African American immigrants. Poverty and racism were some issues that he faced most of his life. This upbringing made him aware of the struggle the African American population was facing at the time. Wilson faced a lot of discrimination at school. He was accused of plagiarism just because the work he came up with was so good, that the teachers thought wouldn’t come from a black person.
August Wilson educated himself by reading at the library after he dropped out of school because of the incident. At the age of 12 he began reading black writers. This greatly influenced his writing style and the subject of his writings. Fences is a part of the series Pittsburg Cycle by August Wilson. The series have plays in different decade which details the African American struggles and hopes during the time of the plays. The plays were written for different decades showing the progress in the African American community at the time. “Fences” was the sixth play in the series. The play Fences is about black family who is struggling in the 1950’s. The plot is about an African American family but the basic appeal is universal. The main issues which rise in the play could happen to any family in the country, regardless of their race or social class. The problems which are portrayed in the play are some of the major issues that still happen in the present society to most of the families in the United States. This makes the play relevant to a very wide audience, people who are watching or reading this play can relate their stories to the play. Relation makes any movie, play or drama very influential.
This is one of the reasons which made the play very famous and a nominee for the Pulitzer award. August Wilson was greatly influenced by the black power movement. He wanted to uplift the rights and the equal treatment for black community in the society. It wasn’t late when he found out that theatre was a very unique and effective way to communicate his voice to specific audience. He communicated the problems faced by African Americans at the time and created awareness about it. Wilson uses a very simple setting in the play which is by no means an extra-ordinary story. The family is not very well of financially so money is always the issue. This covers the majority of the American society which is mainly middle class. This allows a very wide range of audience of different kinds of people to relate to the plot of the story and understand the problems they face. In the play Fences,
Wilson has made a backyard story that connects to a very wide audience by taking in the account of stories in the play about the Negro League and the garbage handling job Troy has. He also makes people aware about the issues that people face due to racism which is very unjust and unfair. These stories are inspired by Wilsons own real life experiences and the problems the black community was facing during the time. The main reasons of him getting the Pulitzer award was that the play influences many people’s lives and was not only written to entertain the crowd but also to carry forward a movement in which the writer believed in and worked for it the whole life. Wilson was not the first black person win the Pulitzer award but surely was one of the most deserving one.
BRANTLEY, BEN. “It’s No More Mr. Nice Guy for This Everyman.” The New York Times 27 April 2010: 3. Article. Busby, Margaret. “August Wilson Distinguished black American playwright who reclaimed the stories of his people.” The Guardian (2005): 7-9. Document. Wilson, August. Fences. New York, New York: Pengiun Group, 1983. Play, Drama.