The Des Moines Social Club, presents Fences written by August Wilson and directed by Ken-Matt Martin. The production will run June 19-June 29, 2014.

This sensational Pulitzer Prize-winning drama is the story of Troy Maxson, a former star in the Negro baseball leagues who now works as a garbage man in 1957 Pittsburgh. Excluded as a black man from the major leagues during his prime, Troy’s bitterness takes its toll on his relationships with his wife and his son, who now wants his own chance to play ball. Can Troy quiet his own demons enough to support his family or will he strike out once more?

Wilson wrote Fences in 1983 as the sixth play of his 10-part Pittsburgh Cycle. The finesse in his character development deliberately captures the tensions of the 1950s. This production includes a vibrant, all-Black cast featuring local veteran actors and two visiting actors from New York and Texas.

Marnie Strate, Des Moines Social Club Education Director says “Fences was chosen on the heels of a very successful staged reading, as directed by Ken-Matt. We thought it was the type of play that no other company in town was likely to tackle.”

Fences opened on Broadway in 1987 at the 46th Street Theatre, where it ran for 536 performances. That year, the play also won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Tony Award for Best Play, and the Drama Desk Award for outstanding play.

Director, Ken-Matt Martin says, “Fences is arguably the most well-known of Wilson’s plays. When deciding which of his ten plays we should do first; Fences seemed to be the one that could be the most commercially successful right off the bat.”

The play is set in 1957, a year that bears the marks of racial integration in the United States. Particularly in Director, Ken-Matt Martin’s hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas. That year the country’s attention focused in, as the NAACP arranged nine Black students’ admittance to the local all-white public high school. Those students bore the brunt of white America’s resentment at mandatory integration, a burden that Fences’ Troy Maxson dreams of having. In this piece, Wilson explored such themes as they related to the African-American experience and race relations.

Fences sponsors include: The Des Moines Social Club, The Directors Council, EquiTrust Life Insurance and The Links, Incorporated.


About the Artists:

AUGUST WILSON (Playwright) authored Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II, and Radio Golf. These works explore the heritage and experience of African-Americans, decade-by-decade, over the course of the twentieth century. His plays have been produced at regional theaters across the country and all over the world, as well as on Broadway. In 2003, Mr. Wilson made his professional stage debut in his one-man show, How I Learned What I Learned. Mr. Wilson’s works garnered many awards including Pulitzer Prizes for Fences (1987); and for The Piano Lesson (1990); a Tony Award for Fences; Great Britain’s Olivier Award for Jitney; as well as eight New York Drama Critics Circle Awards for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Fences, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running, Seven Guitars, Jitney, and Radio Golf. Additionally, the cast recording of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom received a 1985 Grammy Award, and Mr. Wilson received a 1995 Emmy Award nomination for his screenplay adaptation of The Piano Lesson. Mr. Wilson’s early works included the one-act plays The Janitor, Recycle, The Coldest Day of the Year, Malcolm X, The Homecoming and the musical satire Black Bart and the Sacred Hills.

KEN-MATT MARTIN (Director), a native of Little Rock, Arkansas has been working professionally as a theatre artist since he was twelve years old. Since moving to Des Moines he has appeared in both plays and musicals at StageWest Theatre Company, The Des Moines Social Club, and was nominated for the Des Moines Playhouse’s Dionysus Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in Hairspray in 2011. He is a candidate for membership of the Actors Equity Association (AEA) the professional union for stage managers/actors. He was last seen professionally in the theatre world as a company member in the Voices at the River Play Festival at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. He had the honor of being directed by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj (Assistant Director of the 2004 revival production of A Raisin in the Sun on Broadway) in a performance honoring legendary playwright Ed Bullins, and also originated the role of Boy in Michael Chavez’s Waking up to You. He made his directorial debut in 2007 with the premiere of April Gentry-Sutterfield’s Here the Pool, There the Thirst for the Arkansas Governor’s School at Hendrix University. Martin is also no stranger to August Wilson’s works after directing staged readings of Gem of the Ocean and Fences in 2012. He has two degrees from Drake University and serves on the Board of Directors for Employee Family Resources of Iowa.