I've taught the play ever since I student taught, but I still was hesitant to go see it. I'm too busy, I thought. I just don't want to.
But, tonight, I talked myself into seeing Fences performed at Vagabond. And even though there were only about 25 people in the tiny Fells Point theater, and even though the set was minimalist and the actors no names, I don't think I could have had a more powerful theater experience.
This play about dreams, disappointment, fathers, death, and baseball has always been one of my favorite teaching experiences. The kids love it, and it's moving and funny, and it provides lots of great discussion and writing. But I've only heard kids read through it. And myself. Seeing professionals act it out was more powerful than I ever would have imagined. They guy who played Troy Maxson gave one of those performances that I think I'll remember forever; he was absolutely perfect. Gabriel was just as good.
In the final scene, just moments after the epic father and son battle, Corey comes home to his mother for the funeral scene, and, at that moment, the tears that had been sort of in the background just started bursting out. I've never really cried in public before, certainly not like this, but the tears were streaming out. No noise, just tears. My friend looked at me, and she knows what I've been going through lately, and she hugged me, and a few moments later, I heard her sob during Rose's last monologue. And that's how moving and powerful the night was. The best night of theater of my life.
After finishing the last couple hundred pages of The Road yesterday, and Fences today, I think I'm ready for a light comedy, though.
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