Harare, March 31st 2016 | Gideon Jeph Wabvuta
The artist in me was drawn to August Wilson the first time I read Fences. The actor in me wanted to play Troy so much. I wanted to just wear his strength, passion and freedom just once, but well I was/still am too young for that role. The writer in me was in awe of the completeness of the characters, the hate-able but so believable flaws, the creation of characters like Gabe who seemingly is useless until he blows his horn and just drenches you in sorrow and pain. ‘That’s the way to go!!’
The director in me just wanted to get a bunch of super good actors to tell this well-crafted story, and that came to pass. The first day of rehearsal blew me away as Michael K, the actor playing Troy just owned the script and ran off and I saw Troy right in front of me. It just took me back to why I loved August’s work. It had transported me back into 1950’s America. I could feel the pain, frustration and struggle of the African American, yet the culture just permeated, the beauty of the language, the blues iambic as Stephen McKinley Henderson calls it. We went through that process of discovery and without realizing it; we would veer oFf and start discussing our own families and friends.
It made me realise how close to home the play was; the father-son relationship that’s strained by the generation gap and the ‘I know better, I’m your dad’ attitude, we all related! Performance day! I hate watching productions I direct so I sit outside and I listen rather than watch. I found myself edging in when Troy gave his ‘I ain’t gotta like you speech’, edged in a bit more when Rose burst out with her ‘you take’ speech. By the time Bono passed by in the last act I was in a seat at the back and I could feel Troy’s brokenness, his loneliness. And then I realised, indeed, that’s the way to go!!