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'Fences' at Milwaukee Rep Showcases the Power of August Wilson's Works

The Milwaukee Rep closes its season with a powerful production of August Wilson’s 1987 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Fences.

Produced by Penumbra Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota, Fences is part of Wilson’s magnum opus, The Pittsburgh Cycle, which tells the American story through the eyes of African-Americans in a single neighborhood through ten consecutive 20th century decades. Director Lou Bellamy says Wilson's shows epitomize African-American experiences because of his familiarity with the culture. 

"He tells quintessentially American stories in a way that we're not used to seeing as Americans. There is that American narrative, and we recognize that in his plays. But it's a little different when it's told from an African-American perspective," says Bellamy. 

Although Wilson's works focus on African-American experiences, Bellamy says his themes and stories are universal. His dialogue captures a slice of humanity that isn't always seen on stage. 

"The human experience is one that we all recognize. And when you see audiences leaning into this play, you know that they know those people," he says. "They're not used to seeing them perhaps in that context, but they know that life experience." 

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Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.