Marin Theater Company held a Marin City Day on Sunday, May 4, as part of an educational outreach program.
Tickets for 120 residents, with transportation and dinner, were provided to local residents to see “Fences,” play by African American playwright, August Wilson, who is recognized as one of the greats of American theater.
Those who attended included members of the local Marin City Fatherhood Council, Senior Sunshine Club, Performing Stars, First Missionary Baptist Church and the Marin City Community Services District.
Two local Marin City youth, Jade Sweeney, a student at Willow Creek Academy; and Malachi Basher, a student at Bayside Martin Luther King Academy, appeared in the play, taking turns in the role of Raynell
Wilson was born in 1945 in the Hill District of Pittsburgh. His father was Frederick August Kittel Sr., a Sudeten-German immigrant baker and pastry cook who was an alcoholic and mostly absent from the family.
Wilson mother was Daisy Wilson, a cleaning woman from North Carolina.
The young man grew up identifying with the culture of his African-American mother. He educated himself at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburg and read the works of Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison.
Wilson also brought thousands of record albums. When he heard Bessie Smith’s “Nobody in Town Can Bake a Sweet Jelly Roll Like Mine,” he heard his own history as an African-American and found his artistic inspiration in the Blues.
He also realized that he could write in the English he heard on the streets around him rather than the English he read in the books.
Wilson wrote “Fences” in 1983 as the sixth play of his 10-part Pittsburgh Cycle, exploring such themes as the evolving African-American experience and race relations.
“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.
The main character Troy Maxson is a 53-year-old garbage man who was once the homerun king of the Negro Leagues. Maxson has been forced out of playing Major League baseball by prejudice and was now too old to play by the time Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.
Maxson lives mostly to fulfill his responsibility to his wife and son. When his son in on the brink of receiving a scholarship to play college football, Maxson must confront his own demons to try to keep his family together, but then continues to alienate himself from his family.
As Maxson passes at the end of the play, each of the family members must move on to live out their own lives.
Carl Lumbly, famous from television roles in “Alias” and “Cagney and Lacey,” is playing the role of Troy Maxson.
“Fences” will still be playing at the Marin Theater Company on Saturday, May 10, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and on Sunday, May 11, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Advance tickets are $42 to $58. Rush Tickets are $20, and according to availability are sold at the door in cash.