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FENCES Featured in the May 2010 issue of VOGUE

May 2010 Issue / ON STANDS NOW

Denzel Washington and Viola Davis star in the Broadway revival of Fences, August Wilson’s masterpiece about race and family. Photographed by Annie Leibovitz.

Of the ten plays that make up the late August Wilson’s Century Cycle, which take us through the vicissitudes of African-American life in the twentieth century, none has connected more powerfully with audiences than the boisterously funny and shatteringly tragic family drama Fences, which conquered the Tony Awards and won the Pulitzer in 1987. It also featured a legendary performance by James Earl Jones as the patriarch looming over the proceedings. Despite its commercial success, the play has never been revived on Broadway, largely because, well, who could fill those shoes?

It’s taken 22 years, but the answer is Denzel Washington, a star with the deep-rooted masculinity, emotional ballast, and unstoppable charisma required to play a character who, as the production’s director (and longtime Wilson collaborator) Kenny Leon, puts it, “is on a scale with Othello, Lear, Willy Loman.” Set in 1957 – a time when “the hot winds of change,” Wilson writes, “had not yet begun to blow full” – Fences tells the story of Troy Maxson, a former Negro League baseball slugger turned Pittsburgh garbageman. A flawed, tortured giant caught in the slipstream of racial history and abandoned by the American Dream, he struggles to provide for his family even as he betrays his wife, crushes his son, rages at the world, and squares off against death. “He’s honest – brutally honest,” Washington says. “There’s nothing slick or tricky or manipulative about him. As he says, he listens to his heart, and he follows what it tells him, and he tells the truth the way he sees it, even when it hurts.”

Check out the rest of this story and the photo of Denzel Washington & Viola Davis in costume by Annie Leibovitz in the May 2010 issue of VOGUE, now on newsstands.

FENCES begins performances on Wednesday, April 14th and opens on Monday, April 26th
at the Cort Theatre (138 West 48th Street).

Follow FENCES on Twitter: @FencesBroadway 
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