August Wilson’s “Fences” Play on the Theater Stage


The play Fences, by August Wilson addresses us to Troy, who has to struggle for providing for his family. Two great actors, Denzel Washington and James Earl Jones showed the character of the protagonist and his relationship with a son in two different ways. As a result, the effect on the audience is entirely different. A dramatic atmosphere with complete silence and tension during Jones’s play and relaxed, laughing people during Washington’s. The question is not to find out who plays better but to understand the reason for the different reactions of the audience.

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While watching the play with Washington, it may seem that this is a comedy. The first reason for laughing public is definitely the tone and delivery of the actor. The artist does not tell jokes and plays not for laughs. However, the slightly mocking, ironic, and sarcastic acting of Washington makes us feel that the character not even angry and aggressive but surprised and outraged. Secondly, many people went through the same things as parents. They understand and share his speech with their own experience. Unfortunately, it is true that sometimes it is impossible not to shout at the children. Finally, laugh does not necessarily mean that people do not get the idea and do not feel the tragedy of the situation. As a part of black comedy, humor is a sort of mechanism for accepting truths and pain.


Despite foresaid arguments and fascinating acting of Washington, the version with Jones I like more. I believe that such cases are extremely dramatic and they cannot be seen in terms of comedy. Jones does not look like a comic and his acting nobody would ever understand as a joke. Through the actor’s play, through the way how he looks at the son, through hands-on the shoulders of the son at the end of the dialogue, we can suggest that actually, he loves his son.

Although, being a powerful and hardened man, he cannot show his real love. In my opinion, the hero feels a huge pain that his senses are unseeing for the boy, especially after everything he has done for him. This is why Jones’s character is so angry and maybe even desperate. Everybody needs not only to receive love but also to give it.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'August Wilson’s “Fences” Play on the Theater Stage'. 6 June.

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