Fences is a 1985 play by American playwright August Wilson. Set in the 1950s, it is the sixth in Wilson"s ten-part "Pittsburgh Cycle". Like all of the "Pittsburgh" plays, Fences explores the evolving African-American experience and examines race relations, among other themes. The play won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 1987 Tony Award for Best Play. The play was first developed at the Eugene O"Neill Theater Center"s 1983 National Playwrights Conference and premiered at the Yale Repertory Theatre in 1985.
The focus of Wilson"s attention in Fences is Troy, a 53-year-old head of household who struggles with providing for his family. The play takes place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; although never officially named it makes mention of several key locations in Pittsburgh. Troy was an excellent player in Negro league baseball in his younger days and continued practicing while in prison for an accidental murder he had committed during a robbery. Because the color barrier had not yet been broken in Major League Baseball, Troy was unable to get into that league to make good money or to save for the future. He now lives a menial, though respectable life of trash collecting; later in the play, he remarkably crosses the race barrier and becomes the first black truck driver instead of just a barrel lifter.
Troy lives with his wife, Rose, his son, Cory, and his younger brother Gabriel, an ex-soldier whose war injury to his head has caused him noticeable psychological damage. Gabe had received $3000 from the government, and Troy took this money to purchase a home for his family, including a room for Gabe. A short time before the play"s opening, Gabriel has rented a room elsewhere, but still in the neighborhood. Lyons is Troy"s son from a previous marriage, and lives outside the home. Bono is Troy"s best friend and co-worker.
The play begins on payday, with Troy and Bono drinking and talking. Troy"s character is revealed through his speech about how he went up to their boss, Mr. Rand, and asked why black men are not