Fences is a play by August Wilson; it was his second play to go to Broadway. It secured a Tony Award for James Earl Jones and won a Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1987 for the author.
The play is set after the Korean War and before the Vietnam War, from 1957 to 1965. Like many other Wilson plays, the main character is a tragic black man; in Fences, his name is Troy Maxson. Other major characters include:
The play begins on payday, with Troy and Bono drinking and talking. Troy's character is revealed through his speech about how he (Troy) went up to Mr. Rand (their boss) and asked why black men aren' allowed to drive the garbage trucks (they are garbage men). Rose and Lyons join in the conversation. Lyons, a musician, has come to ask for money, confident he will receive it.
A few days later, Cory tells Troy that a man from North Carolina will come to talk about Cory's future in football, and that he will be offered a scholarship. Troy was also a sports star when younger: a baseball player in the Negro Leagues, disheartened that the major leagues began to accept black players only when Troy was too old to play. Troy allows Cory to play football only on the condition that Cory keep his after-school job at the A&P supermarket. Cory, although knowing that this is impossible, accepts Troy's offer.
By the next scene, we learn that Troy has won his case and is the first black man to drive a garbage truck in Pittsburgh. As he is boasting to Bono about his past struggles with his father, Cory comes in enraged, because Troy has told the football coach that Cory cannot play football anymore because he didn't keep his job at the A&P. Troy views Cory's insubordination as "strike one." Two more strikes, and Troy will kick him out.
In the next scene, Troy bails Gabriel out of jail after Gabriel was arrested for disturbing the peace. Bono warns Troy about not "messing" with Alberta and sticking with Rose. Troy says he realizes Rose's value, but then admits to her that he is having an affair with Alberta, and she is pregnant. Rose is distraught that she put all her faith in Troy and yet he betrayed her. When Troy grabs her arm, Cory comes from behind him and shoves Troy down. Troy admonishes Cory that this act is "strike two" and tells him not to strike out. For the next few months, all Troy does is come home, change, and go to Alberta's house. No one in the family talks to him.
Six months later, Rose receives a call from the hospital. Troy's baby is a girl, and Alberta has died in childbirth. When Troy comes home with the baby, Raynell, he asks Rose to act as the mother. She agrees to this for the sake of the child, but tells Troy that he is now a "womanless man." Rose leaves, and Troy sits in the entrance to the house. When Cory tries to push his way past him, Troy is enraged and demands that Cory say "excuse me." Cory then points out that the house is not really Troy's but rather is Gabriel's. The two men fight, trying to hit one another with a baseball bat. Troy wins and kicks Cory out, and tells him to provide for himself.
The next scene is set seven years later, at Troy's funeral. Cory returns, now a Marine. At first he refuses to come to Troy's funeral, but after Rose admonishes his rebellion and after he and Raynell sing an old song of Troy's, he concedes. Gabriel comes and tries to open the gates of heaven, by blowing on his horn. This fails, and the gates only open when Gabriel does a traditional African dance.
Plays that it can be compared with: