On the 27th of February 2016 at the Zimbabwe German Society, Almasi presented a staged reading of Fences by August Wilson. The reading is part of the Capacity Building of Dramatic Artists project supported by the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust in partnership with Sida and Danida. Directed by Gideon Jeph Wabvuta, the staged reading had the participation of experienced actors and upcoming actors. The play deals with issues of dreams, manhood, love and historical prejudices. It describes the life of an African-American family that is economically troubled.
Troy Maxson, the father of the family, is a black man in 1950s America where disappointments, heartbreaks and lack of opportunities are the order of the day. He was a baseball player in the Negro League but never made it to the Majors because he grew too old. The story is about the relationship of Troy with his children and wife. He has a son named Lyons who doesn’t live with the family but still begs for money from Troy. Troy’s main trouble is with his son Cory. Cory is disobedient to Troy because he wants to become a football player. He gave up his job and school studies to focus on football but Troy doesn’t like this and he kicks him out of the house. During all of this, Troy is dealing with racial prejudice at his work. His boss will not allow anyone to drive the garbage trucks, but after Troy’s pleading, his boss allows him to drive the truck and he becomes the first black man to drive a truck in the entire city of Pittsburgh. Cory leaves the house and doesn’t return until 8 years later when his father dies.
CAST & CREW
Cory | Brighton Ndlovu
Rose | Charlene Mangweni
Bono | Musa Nicholas Saruro
Lyons | Anthony Mazhetese
Raynell | Jo Anne Tenga
Gabriel | Derek Nziyakwi
Stage Manager | Prudence Kalipinde
Operations Manager | Kudakwashe Kanembirira
Associate Artistic Director | Elizabeth Zaza Muchemwa
A NOTE FROM DIRECTOR GIDEON JEPH WABVUTA
THAT’S THE WAY TO GO
The artist in me was drawn to August Wilson the first time I read Fences. The actor in me wanted to play Troy so much. I wanted to just wear his strength, passion and freedom just once, but well I was/still am too young for that role. The writer in me was in awe of the completeness of the characters, the hate-able but so believable flaws, the creation of characters like Gabe who seemingly is useless until he blows his horn and just drenches you in sorrow and pain. ‘That’s the way to go!!’ The director in me just wanted to get a bunch of super good actors to tell this well-crafted story, and that came to pass. The first day of rehearsal blew me away as Michael K, the actor playing Troy just owned the script and ran off and I saw Troy right in front of me. It just took me back to why I loved August’s work. It had transported me back into 1950’s America. I could feel the pain, frustration and struggle of the African American, yet the culture just permeated, the beauty of the language, the blues iambic as Stephen McKinley Henderson calls it. We went through that process of discovery and without realizing it; we would veer oFf and start discussing our own families and friends. It made me realise how close to home the play was; the father-son relationship that’s strained by the generation gap and the ‘I know better, I’m your dad’ attitude, we all related! Performance day! I hate watching productions I direct so I sit outside and I listen rather than watch. I found myself edging in when Troy gave his ‘I ain’t gotta like you speech’, edged in a bit more when Rose burst out with her ‘you take’ speech. By the time Bono passed by in the last act I was in a seat at the back and I could feel Troy’s brokenness, his loneliness. And then I realised, indeed, that’s the way to go!! CONTINUE READING