August Wilson’s Fences to have Australian premiere at Sydney Theatre Company

STC-Bert-LaBonté-and-Zahra-Newman-in-Fences-photo-by-Rene-VaileAugust Wilson’s towering classic, Fences, will have its long-overdue Australian premiere at Sydney Theatre Company this month, featuring two of the starring performers from 2022’s critically-adored production, A Raisin in the Sun – Bert LaBonté and Zahra Newman.

Winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize and recently adapted into an Academy Award-winning film starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, Fences is a seminal American piece about a family in Pittsburgh in the 1950s which serves as an allegory to the radical upheavals of the twentieth century.

Troy, played by LaBonté, is a hardworking family man who’s still nursing the wounds of his failed baseball career, and Rose, played by Newman, is his optimistic, resourceful and steadfast second wife.

Troy and Rose’s marriage is the centre of a loving yet troubled family unit, buffeted by the winds of change but hamstrung by a history of injustice.

STC Resident Director Shari Sebbens is at the helm of this production, which she hopes will resonate deeply with Australian audiences in 2023.

“Even though Fences is a very specifically Black American story, it’s still about a father and a son, a family trying to do their best and to measure their hopes and dreams up against reality, and I think that’s something we can all identify with,” said Sebbens.

“August Wilson had a beautiful way of capturing the way that poetry lives in the mouths of regular people, and there’s a musicality to the piece that will be spellbinding for audiences.”

Sebbens said she was thrilled to be working closely with Bert and Zahra as they bring the couple at the centre of Fences – Troy and Rose – to life.

“It’s always amazing to watch those two particular actors play against each other on stage, there’s a certain magic to their chemistry,” said Sebbens. “We’re also very excited about introducing a new bunch of faces to the STC audience.”

“The energy from day one has been so lovely and warm, which we know will carry through into a really beautiful and moving production.”

Bert and Zahra will be joined onstage by a stellar ensemble cast, many of whom are making their STC debut, including Markus Hamilton, Damon Manns, Molly Moriarty, Dorian Nkono, Liannah Nandi Sibanda and Darius Williams.

Sebbens has also assembled a fantastic creative team to bring this rich and affecting work to the stage, including designer Jeremy Allen (The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?), lighting designer Verity Hampson (City of Gold), composer Brendon Boney (Wudjang: Not the Past), Assistant Director Daley Rangi (City of Gold), accent coach Amani Dorn (A Raisin in the Sun) and voice coach Angela Nica Sullen (Hubris & Humiliation).

August Wilson was an American playwright who has been referred to as the “theatre’s poet of Black America.” He is best known for a series of ten plays, collectively called The Pittsburgh Cycle, which chronicle the experiences and heritage of the African-American community in the 20th century. Fences, written in 1985, is the sixth play in the cycle.

Wharf 1 Theatre – Sydney Theatre Company, Wharf 4/5 – 15 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay (Sydney)
Season: 31 March – 6 May 2023 (previews: 25 – 29 March)
Information and Bookings:

Image: Bert LaBonté and Zahra Newman star in Fences – photo by Rene Vaile