From May 7 to 24, The Morningside Players will present “Fences,” the Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning play by August Wilson, directed by Arthur French, a stalwart veteran of Broadway and Off-Broadway who is also a prime interpreter of August Wilson’s plays.
The play is part of Wilson’s ten-part “Pittsburgh Cycle” plays and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 1987 Tony Award for Best Play. Troy Maxson is a former star of the Negro baseball leagues who is now working as a garbage collector in 1957 Pittsburgh. Excluded from the major leagues during his prime, his bitterness takes a toll on his relationships with both his wife and his son who now wants his own chance to play. Troy has gone through life in an America where to be proud and black is to face pressures that could crush a man, body and soul. But the 1950’s are yielding to the new spirit of liberation in the 1960’s, a spirit that is changing the world. He has learned to deal with the only way he can: with a spirit that is making him a stranger, angry and afraid, in a world he never knew and to a wife and son he understands less and less.
Director Arthur French is a leading figure in Black Theater in NYC. In a career spanning over 50 years, he has worked extensively with the Negro Ensemble Company and has acted a wide variety of roles both on and off Broadway. He has just finished acting a long Broadway run opposite Cicely Tyson in “The Trip to Bountiful.” His Broadway acting resume also includes “Dividing the Estate” by Horton Foote and August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Has directed plays at New Federal Theatre, Classical Theatre of Harlem, Africa Arts Theatre Company and The Morningside Players, among others. At Morningside Players, his production of “A Raisin in the Sun” was nominated for Best Revival in 2013. He has previously directed two August Wilson plays: “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” at Classical Theatre of Harlem (2002) (AUDELCO Awards, Best Director and Best Production) and “Fences” at the Weston Playhouse in Vermont (2003), which toured the New England states. At The Morningside Players, he starred in “The Heiress” as Dr. Sloper in 2011.
The actors are Jordan Brown as Troy Maxson; Carol Carter as his wife, Rose; Sean C. Turner as his friend, Jim Bono; Larry Floyd and Nicholas Miles Newton as his sons, Lyons and Cory; Craig Anthony Bannister as his brother, Gabriel and Morgan Hallums as his illegitimate daughter, Raynell.
Set design is by Michael Mahaney. Costume design is by Katherine Roberson. Lighting and Sound design are by Patrick Mahaney.
Morningside Players is a 2014 AUDELCO winner for “The Old Settler” by John Henry Redwood. The company is situated in the lower level of 100 La Salle Street, in the Morningside Gardens complex. Initially supported by many Morningside Gardens cooperators, the company has attained 501(c)3 status and has earned the interest and respect of the entire Morningside community and beyond. Its productions have included “All My Sons,” “A Raisin in the Sun” (AUDELCO nominated, 2012) “The Devil’s Disciple,” “Mrs. Farnsworth,” “The Heiress” and many new plays. The original Company was founded in 1974 by Dr. Paul Kozelka of Teachers College, who was its director until 1978. The group was reactivated by Lydia LaFleur and Aimee Scheff in the early 1980’s.
Its current Artistic Director, Susanna Frazer, last directed “Daughters of the Sexual Revolution” by Dana Leslie Goldstein for WorkShop Theater Company. Other credits include the musical “Life on the Mississippi,” (2013, NYIT nominated as Outstanding Production of a Musical) and various productions for The Atlantic Theater Co. Conservatory and NYU’s Tisch BFA program. On Broadway, she co-starred in “The Nerd” and stood by for Cherry Jones in Tommy Tune’s “Stepping Out.” She wrote an award-winning play, “Ellen Terry,” and performed it around the U.S. (www.susannafrazer.com).
Morningside Players will present “Fences,” May 7 to 24, 2015 at 100 La Salle Street, Manhattan. Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 PM and Sundays at 3:00 PM. Tickets are $15 general admission and $12 for seniors and students. Tickets can be purchased online at www.brownpapertickets.com and the box-office number is 646-200-5089. Subways directions are: A, B, C, D, 1 to 125th Street, Bus: M104, M4, M60, M11, M7 to La Salle Street.The production company website is www.morningsideplayers.org