IMPORTANT NOTE: This presentation has been postponed indefinitely. You can read our statement regarding season cancellations here.
A co-presentation by Centaur Theatre Company and Black Theatre Workshop.
Directed by Mike Payette
“When the sins of our fathers visit us we do not have to play host.” – August Wilson
What does it mean to be Black in America? August Wilson’s Fences takes audiences inside the home of a working class African American family to meet Troy Maxson, an ex-con whose time behind bars cost him a pro-baseball career. He’s worked hard to overcome his past, to be a faithful husband and reliable provider, but the more he fights for acceptance and respect, desperately trying not to repeat his father’s mistakes, the more he yearns for his freedom. How is a man supposed to breathe under all this pressure? That fence he’s building in the yard can’t prevent his true nature from destroying all he loves or keep his children from pursuing the dreams that have eluded him.
AUGUST WILSON (April 27, 1945 – October 2, 2005) 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. Mr. Wilson received many fellowships and awards, including Rockefeller and Guggenheim Fellowships in Playwrighting, the Whiting Writers Award, 2003 Heinz Award, was awarded a 1999 National Humanities Medal by the President of the United States, and received numerous honorary degrees from colleges and universities, as well as the only high school diploma ever issued by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. He was an alumnus of New Dramatists, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a 1995 inductee into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and on October 16, 2005, Broadway renamed the theater located at 245 West 52nd Street – The August Wilson Theatre. Additionally, Mr. Wilson was posthumously inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2007. Mr. Wilson was born and raised in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and lived in Seattle, Washington at the time of his death. He is immediately survived by his two daughters, Sakina Ansari and Azula Carmen Wilson, and his wife, costume designer Constanza Romero.
Mike Payette is an actor and director who has appeared at some of Canada’s finest theatres including The Citadel, MTYP, Vertigo, Banff Centre, The Grand, Factory Theatre, Neptune, and the National Arts Centre, as well as with many great companies in his Montreal hometown. Directing credits include Harlem Duet (Black Theatre Workshop), A Line in the Sand and Another Home Invasion (Tableau D’Hôte Theatre), Hosanna and Choir Boy (Centaur), Around the World in 80 Days (Geordie), the recent national tours of Angélique (Tableau D’Hôte/BTW/NAC/Factory/Obsidian) and The Tashme Project (Tashme Prods./Centaur/Factory/Firehall), and the upcoming premiere Héritage – A Raisin in the Sun (Théâtre Jean-Duceppe). Mike is a two-time Montreal English Theatre Award (META) recipient, was the co-founding Artistic Director of Tableau D’Hôte Theatre, and was Assistant Artistic Director for Black Theatre Workshop. He is currently the proud Artistic Director of Geordie Productions.
Ryan Allen – Lyons
Ryan is excited to be in the city of Montreal making his Centuar debut. SELECTED THEATRE: Book of Mormon (Broadway), Twelfth Night (Theatre Calgary), Sousatzka (Teatro Proscenium Ltd.), Oil and Water (Artistic Fraud), Metamorphoses (National Arts Centre), The Color Purple (Neptune Theatre, Citadel, Royal Mantioba Theatre Centre) Feelgood (Theatre New Brunswick) Master Harold and the Boys (Thousand Islands Playhouse). SELECTED FILM AND TV: Tokens) (Webseries)Between (Netflix), 21Thunder (Netflix), Frankie Drake (CBC), Taken (NBC),Rex (CBC), Working Moms (CBC) Rogue (DirecTV), Blue Mountain State (Spike TV) Orphan Black (BBC America) OPERA: Ryan is also a trained operatic tenor who has performed across North America and Italy.
Prince Amponsah – Gabriel
Prince Amponsah is currently based out of Toronto and making his debut at Centaur Theatre. Prince is a graduate of the George Brown Theatre Program. He is extremely excited and grateful to get to explore some of August Wilson’s wonderful material. A few of his tv and theatre credits include PRIVATE EYES (Global); THE HANDMAID’S TALE (Hulu); KILLJOYS (Syfy/Space); Lot and His God (Desiderata Theatre), S H E E T S (Veritas Theatre) and Hangman (The Scapegoat Collective).
Quincy Armorer – Troy
Quincy is thrilled to return to the Centaur stage and to appear in an August Wilson play for the first time! He previously appeared at Centaur in Choir Boy, The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God, Intimate Apparel, Romeo & Juliet, Condoville and Tiger’s Heart. Other credits include productions with the National Arts Centre, Stratford Festival, Black Theatre Workshop, Geordie Theatre, Repercussion Theatre, Shakespeare by the Sea and 6 seasons with the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival. A 5-time nominee at the Montreal English Theatre Awards, Quincy teaches at Queens University, is Associate Artist of the English Section at the National Theatre School of Canada and is Artistic Director of Black Theatre Workshop.
Lucinda Davis – Rose
Lucinda Davis found her way into the profession through a weird twist of fate: timid and with virtually no acting background, she was called by mistake to audition for a leading role in a television series, and got the part. Twenty later, she has amassed an impressive list of credits for stage, television and film and has lent her voice to cartoons and video games. She is thrilled to be returning to Centaur Theatre to tell this iconic story. Her list of theatre credits include: Intimate Apparel, Adventures of a Black Girl In Search Of God (National Arts Centre, Centaur Theatre and Black Theatre Workshop), Harlem Duet (Black Theatre Workshop), random (Imago Theatre and Black Theatre Workshop) and How Black Mothers Say I Love You (Great Canadian Theatre Company).
Jahlani Knorren – Cory
Raised by the love and kindness of a strong black mother, Jahlani was first exposed to theatre through his mom’s love of Shakespeare. He was more formally introduced to the stage while in his third year of sociology at the University of Saskatchewan. Athlete turned actor, Jahlani has recently graduated from Concordia University with a BFA in theatre. Blackout marks Jahlani’s professional debut in the Montréal theatre scene. When he’s not acting he writes poems, reads comics, listens to audiobooks and enjoys discovering new music. His biggest inspirations include Malcolm X, Denzel Washington, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou and most importantly his Mom.
Jeremiah Sparks – Jim Bono
Jeremiah was born and raised in Preston Nova Scotia and now lives in Toronto. His Stage roles include the role of Mufasa in the Toronto (Mirvish) production of Disney’s The Lion King. He has performed across the country in such memorable roles as Louis Armstrong (Satchmo Suite) and Lanier Phillips (Oil and Water). He is a major performer in the world renown production of Drum. And recently played “PA” in the Canadian premier of Color Purple with Neptune Theater. His 2nd CD “Storms of Fear” is now available on iTunes.
Set & Costume Designer Rachel Forbes
Lighting Designer Tim Rodrigues
Stage Manager Luciana Burcheri
Assistant Stage Manager Isabel Quintero Faia
Enrich your Experience ..
POETRY JAM APRIL 19 @ 5PM
Presented by Black Theatre Workshop, Blue Met, and Throw Poetry Collective. Come out and experience Spoken Word by local artists. Be entertained. Be challenged. Be moved. Be there. 3 minutes. No props. All heart. Guest judges will decide the top poet.
THURSDAY PRE-SHOW CONVO APRIL 23 @ 7PM
Before every Thursday preview performance, meet the designers who give the play you’re about to see its breath and heartbeat. Centaur Theatre’s Vanessa Rigaux speaks with Fences Director Mike Payette and his creative team.
CENTAUR THEATRE CHAT-UP APRIL 26 @ 12:30PM
Gazette editor in chief Lucinda Chodan will speak with Dr. Dorothy Williams about shining a light on black history and about belonging and striving to succeed in Canada. Dr. Williams, a historian and researcher, has written several books about the history of Blacks in Montreal and numerous articles about being Black in Canada. Her company, Blacbiblio.com, has created educational resources for teachers and schools.
SATURDAY SALON APRIL 25
Following the Saturday matinée performance, join Eda Holmes in casual conversation about August Wilson’s Fences and all things Centaur.
TALK BACKS – THURSDAY, APRIL 30 & SUNDAY MAY 3
Following the performance, you are invited to stay for informal Q&A sessions with the artists. Held in the theatre after the THURSDAY, APRIL 30 evening and SUNDAY, MAY 3 matinée performances.