Company Builds Fences in Tang

The lights dim, the music stops. Troy Maxson and his friend Jim Bono come into the backyard, talking and laughing over work and women, while sharing a drink. Charles Turner and Jasper R. McGruder portray their characters, Troy and Bono, respectively, with such natural ease that the members of the audience forget they are watching a play, not eavesdropping on the Maxson family. This relaxed scene was the beginning of Fences. Amidst homework, sports, and music rehearsals, students and faculty alike took time off from their busy Thursday schedules to see the first of two performances of Fences. With a generous grant from the Abbot Academy Association, the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company, Vermont’s oldest professional theatre, came to campus October 30 & 31 to perform the August Wilson show. Fences tells of the trials and tribulations of a black family, the Maxsons, in the years 1957, 1958, and 1965. The dim lighting of the stage, set as the backyard of the Maxson house in an industrial city, evoked a sense of the tragedy yet to come. The brightness of the lighting on the backdrop dictated the time of day—orange and pink for morning, and white and grey for night. Music from this time period was played before and during the play, thereby reflecting the mood of the characters. As the play continues, Rose, Troy’s wife, joins the conversation, teasing her husband lovingly. By the end of the scene,the central themes of the play, baseball and death, also enter the conversation. Later the first act, the audience is introduced to Lyons, Gabriel, and Cory. Lyons, Troy’s son by another marriage, is a struggling musician who sporadically asks Troy to lend him some money. He refuses to do physical labor like the other characters, saying that music is all he wants to do. Gabriel, Troy’s shell-shocked brother, tells a