Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #76

Contents

LEON CONTINUES WILSON’s WORK

THE DRAMA OF EVERYDAY LIFE IN “FENCES”

DREW APPEAL

ROXBURY REPERTORY THEATER WORKS A MIRACLE

2009 NEWBERY HONORS

A NEW URBAN THEATER DEBUTS

HALEY HOUSE DINNER & A MOVIE GOES RAW

CALYPSO & COMEDY AT THE STRAND

NY’s IRISH REP PRESENTS EMPOROR JONES

DA GOODIE MONSTA COMES TO BOSTON

UP-COMING EVENTS & COMMUNITY INFORMATION


LEON CONTINUES WILSON’s WORK

by Kay Bourne

04be532df618d5705a2174d0107d22ca.124.113 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #76When there’s a day or two break between rehearsals, KENNY LEON hops on a fast plane to Georgia. “Everything I do overlaps,” says the exceptionally busy Leon, currently directing August Wilson’s “FENCES” for the Huntington Theatre Company.

Leon’s career is a balancing act. Passion drives him. In addition to directing the intense drama about a father who is a tyrant in his son’s eyes, Leon’s running his own theater in Atlanta, True Colors, as its founding artistic director, and keeping his hand in acting, too. He recently revisited the role of Zachariah, which he first played in 1998, in Athol Fugard‘s “Blood Knot.”

True Colors upcoming show is Phillip Hayes Dean‘s “Sty of the Blind Pig,” written in 1971. “One of the mission’s of True Colors is to introduce plays to a new generation. I find that very rewarding,” says Leon.

“We’re only going to be on this planet for a few years. I want to squeeze in as much as I can.”

The Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning “Fences” was the second of Wilson’s plays to go to Broadway (following “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”). Staged prior to the regional theater try-out system Wilson and his director Lloyd Richards established which brought all the rest of Wilson’s decade-by-decade saga of African American life in the 20th century to the Huntington before heading to New York, “Fences” will be the debut of this play at the theater Wilson considered his Boston artistic home.

The Huntington Theatre Company opened its 28th season – a season of American stories – with “Fences,” chronologically speaking the sixth chapter to his ten-play cycle. Kenny Leon, who was Wilson’s hand picked final collaborator before his death, helms the production. “Fences” stars JOHN BEASLEY, in a debut at the Huntington, as the father who refuses to support his son’s ambitions. “Fences” continues at the Huntington through OCTOBER 11. Tickets for KBAR readers range from best seats $39 to $20. Just enter or mention the discount code “STORIES” when ordering tickets by phone or online.

Leon himself returns to the Huntington for the sixth time with “Fences,” having first directed at the Equity company based at 264 Huntington Ave. with “From the Mississippi Delta” in 1993.

In “Fences,” Troy Maxson, a former Negro Leagues star who peaked too soon for baseball’s integration and so because of racism could never move into the majors, now works as a garbage collector. In 1957 Pittsburgh (before the Civil Rights Movement really got rolling), he’s also meeting racial barriers in his city job which keeps Blacks lifting the garbage pails while Whites drive the trucks.

His son, Cory, an emerging high school football star has an offer from a White scout for a college football scholarship but Maxson, who can’t believe Whites would make good on that offer, insists that Cory quit the team and work after school in the supermarket instead. He sees his father as tyrannical and wrong headed. Meanwhile Troy’s wife Rose also has her dreams that aren’t being met, his older son, Lyons, a jazz musician, strives for the father’s respect for his talent on the horn, and his brother, Gabriel, a brain damaged war vet, offers Troy yet another perspective on the world.

Leon has directed “Fences” four times previously, but while revisiting a play can be boring to a director, he says far from being exhausted by it, “it feels like a new play every time. I’m always making new discoveries.”

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