JULY 1 – AUGUST 6, 2022
August Wilson’s FENCES
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR DRAMA
Written by: August Wilson
Directed by: Monty Cole
This is the sensational drama about Troy Maxson, a former star of the Negro Baseball League, who now works as a garbage man in Pittsburgh. Troy and his wife Rose want the American Dream – to own a house with a white picket fence that keeps the family safe and trouble out. When mistrust builds and secrets are revealed, this iconic Black family begins to crumble in America’s embrace. Director Monty Cole’s innovative and intimate production explodes Wilson’s masterful text with raw emotion. You’ve never seen Fences like this before!
Read Backstage Guide, Director’s note, or welcome from the Artistic Director.
Read our digital program.
(New location!) Theater Wit
1229 W Belmont Ave, Chicago 60657
July 1 – August 6, 2022
Box Office: (773) 975-8150
Runs 2 hours and 15 minutes with intermission
Tickets range $25-$45 + $2.75 Theater Wit venue fee
Recommended for ages 14+
Thursdays: 7:30 PM
Fridays: 7:30 PM
Saturdays: 2:30 PM (except July 2 & 9) & 7:30 PM (except Aug 6)
Sundays: 2:30 PM
Added shows – Wednesdays July 6 & August 3 @ 7:30 PM.
Photography by Michael Brosilow; videos by Stage Channel.
CAST: Kamal Angelo Bolden (Troy Maxson), Manny Buckley* (Gabriel), Shanésia Davis (Rose), Ajax Dontavius (Cory), Martel Manning (Jim Bono), William Anthony Sebastian Rose II (Lyons), and Riley Wells (Raynell).
PRODUCTION TEAM: August Wilson (playwright), Monty Cole (director), Yeaji Kim (scenic design), Jared Gooding* (lighting design), Stephanie Cluggish (costume design), Rick Sims* (sound design), Verity Neely (properties design), Charlie Baker (fight & intimacy direction), Cara Parrish* (stage manager), Shandee Vaughan* (production manager), and more.
*Ensemble member or Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater.
As featured by CBS, WBEZ, WVON, Crain’s Chicago “The Big Ticket”, Choose Chicago’s “10 Hot Shows to see in Chicago”, Chicago Reader’s “Swinging for the Fences with Monty Cole”, Daily Herald, and Chicago Tribune’s “Hottest Shows for the Summer”. Joseph Jefferson Award recommended.
“3.5 out of 4 stars. The casting and staging combine for an intense revival of a modern American classic.” – Chicago Tribune, full review
“Monty Cole’s blistering staging of Fences for American Blues Theater should not be missed. SEE THIS PLAY.” – Chicago Reader, full review
“Riveting…there could be no greater testament to the play’s greatness than this magnificent production.” – WTTW, full review
“Exceptional Cast!” – Chicago Sun Times, full review
“Brilliant staging by Monty Cole. Pitch perfect acting all around.” – Picture this Post, full review
“Intense and emotional!…feels as though you are at a family backyard gathering.” – Splash Magazine, full review
“[Kamal Angelo Bolden’s] impeccable and powerful presence will captivate the audience. Outstanding performance came from Shanesia Davis.” – Let’s Play Theatrical Reviews, full review
“Five out of five stars! Amazing cast.” – Around the Town Chicago, full review
“Amazing experience! …Beautiful concept.” – Amy S.
“Masterpiece! Loved it!” – Lynette B.
“Don’t miss this, especially if you’re an August Wilson fan!” – Nancy R.
“I loved, loved, loved the direction, the depth and commitment of the performers, and the entire concept. When I walked in, I was struck by the simplicity of the set, but how it also surrounded, so the metaphor worked instantly.” – T.E.
“Amazing rendition! We can’t wait to go back.” – Tyshawn S.
“Performed in an intimate space where the characters’ emotional journeys are palpable. It is a must see.” – Keith K.
“Amazing performances!” – Ivory S.
“[This] production was magnificent.” – Michael K.
“DOPE! Spoke to my generation. “ – Adrianna M.
“Fences was wonderful; funny, intense, and moving. The cast was terrific.” – Michael L.
“Can you please put out tissues for the audience? We need them. This is so good.” – an usher
“Incredible. I’ve never been this close to an August Wilson show.” – Ann V.
KAMAL ANGELO BOLDEN he/him (Troy Maxson) A native of Peoria, IL, Kamal graduated from Bradley University with a degree in Business Administration-Entrepreneurship. Theatre: the lead role of Hero in Father Comes Home From The Wars Parts 1,2, & 3 (Goodman Theatre), Immediate Family directed by Phylicia Rashad (Mark Taper Forum), the title role of Chad Deity in the world premiere of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (Victory Gardens Theater), Jitney, The Misanthrope, and Home (Court Theatre), Coriolanus (Nashville Shakespeare), SS: Romeo & Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare). Off-Broadway: AUDELCO Award for Best Actor in Reparations at the historic Billie Holiday Theatre and a nomination for The Opponent at 59E59St Theatre. Film: Vacation Friends, The Night Before, Ravers, Keys to the City, Elvis & Nixon. Television: Series Regular on The Endgame (NBC), 61st Street, Chicago Fire, Insecure, The Resident, Law & Order SVU, Rosewood, NCIS, Major Crimes, Betrayal, Low Winter Sun, Boss, Lights Out.
MANNY BUCKLEY he/him (Gabriel) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. He is a Chicago-based director, actor, playwright and teaching artist. Blues credits include It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, Six Corners, Looking Over the President’s Shoulder (Jeff Award Nomination-Best Solo Performance), and Dutchman/TRANSit (Black Theatre Alliance Award Nomination). Manny toured nationally as “Satchel Paige” in the original production of The Satchel Paige Story, and appeared in The Father (Helen Hayes Award Nomination) at Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C. He originated the role of “Carson” in Hit the Wall, which sold out extensions in Steppenwolf’s Garage Rep. Select Chicago credits include The Brothers Size, 1984, and Of Mice and Men (Steppenwolf); Dorian (House Theater); and Love’s Labor’s Lost (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre). Mr. Buckley is the recipient of a Black Theatre Alliance, and Black Excellence Award. He most recently directed Kingdom, an audio drama, with Broken Nose Theatre.
SHANÉSIA DAVIS she/her (Rose) is thrilled to return to American Blues Theater where she was last seen in their co-production of Native Son with Court Theatre. As an actress, some of her credits include works at Steppenwolf, Northlight, Porchlight Music Theatre, Goodman, Congo Square, Mark Taper Forum, Cleveland Playhouse, CenterStage Baltimore, The Gift Theatre, Kansas City Rep, and Court Theatre, to name a few. She has been Jeff Award nominated several times and is a Black Theatre Alliance Award recipient, as well as Excellence in the Arts recipient. Film credits include Chicago Stories: Ida B. Wells, The Thing about Harry, Working Man, BLUEPRINT, External Rivals, Consumed, Damaged Goods, Cleveland Abduction, Morning Due, The Weatherman, Uncle Nino, Life Sentence, and Chicago Cab, among others. Television credits includes Emmy nominated Lovecraft Country (HBO), Proven Innocent (FOX), Empire (FOX), Chicago Fire (NBC), CRISIS (ABC), Detroit 187 (ABC), and series regular on Early Edition (CBS), among others. She is a proud member of Equity and SAG/AFTRA unions as well as Artistic Associate of Congo Square Theater and Program Director of Acting at Roosevelt University, CCPA. Mama loves you Nam and Tae!
AJAX DONTAVIUS he/him (Cory) is a Chicago-based actor who is so excited to join this amazing production of Fences. Previously, Ajax has co-starred on NBC’s Chicago P.D. and will appear on the second season of AMC’s 61st Street. He was last seen on stage in Lifeline Theatre’s stage adaptation of Middle Passage as Rutherford Calhoun. Ajax would love to thank God for this amazing opportunity. As well as his beautiful wife, Delaney, for her undying support and love, his incredible Mom and family and last but not least, his agents at Gray Talent. Psalm 119:105 www.ajaxdontavius.com
MARTEL MANNING he/him (Jim Bono) is thrilled to be returning to the stage with these amazing people. Chicago credits include: Photograph 51 (Court Theatre), Her Majesty’s Will (Lifeline Theatre), as well as Pillowman, Kentucky, and Hamlet (The Gift Theatre). Regional credits include: Romeo & Juliet – Juliet’s Journey (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Still Dance the Stars (New Light Theatre), Two Gentlemen of Verona (Michigan Shakespeare Festival). Martel received an MFA in Acting from the University of Houston Professional Actor Training Program and is represented by Shirley Hamilton Talent.
WILLIAM ANTHONY SEBASTIAN ROSE II he/him (Lyons) is excited and thankful to making his debut with American Blues Theater. He is a Chicago based actor most recently featured as King Henri Christophe in The House Theatre’s The Tragedy of King Christophe. He was last seen in an on-stage, in-person production with Broken Nose Theatre’s Labyrinth as a still wet behind the ears loan officer. He has also had the privilege of working with Kunoichi Productions virtual presentation of The True Tale of Princess Kaguya as the psychotic Emperor and power hungry but moronically pathetic Prince; a man searching for his truth in Victory Gardens Theaters’ The First Deep Breath; a dilettante English lord fancying himself an amateur sleuth in Whose Body, Lifeline Theatre; a forgotten political prisoner fighting for change in We Are Pussy Riot, Red Tape Theatre. You can also see him on display now in the Chicago Maritime Museum exhibit as the founder of Chicago, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable. TV credits include Lovecraft County. Represented by Big Mouth Talent Agency. IG: @hiswillness
RILEY WELLS she/her (Raynell) is very excited to be a part of Fences at American Blues Theater. She recently worked on a short film “They Say Time Heals” as Anisah as well as the CW’s television show 4400. Riley studies dance and acting at FieldCrest School of Performing Arts. She also studies voice and piano at the MuzicNet. For fun, Riley enjoys engineering, space, gymnastics. She wants to thank her parents, Marlon and Keli, and grandma and sister for always supporting her passions.
Understudies include LUCAS LOOCH JOHNSON (Lyons / Cory), WARREN LEVON (Gabriel / Jim Bono), NNEOMA SAMPSON (Rose), and NIA WRIGHT (Raynell). Special thanks to Robert Wilson.
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 the descendants of Africans in North America, decade by decade, over the course of the twentieth century, forming the compilation entitled The American Century Cycle. His plays have been produced on Broadway, at regional theaters across the country, and all over the world. Mr. Wilson’s works garnered many awards including: the Pulitzer Prize for Fences (1987) and for The Piano Lesson (1990); a Tony Award for Fences; Great Britain’s Olivier Award for Jitney; and seven 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, and Jitney. 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 received many fellowships and awards, including the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Fellowships in Playwriting, the Whiting Writers Award and the 2003 Heinz Award. He was awarded a 1999 National Humanities Medal by President Bill Clinton 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.” 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, who is the executor of his estate.
MONTY COLE he/him (Director) is an award-winning theatre and film writer-director from Oak Park, IL. He has directed for The Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf, Center Theatre Group, The Playwrights Center, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Victory Gardens Theater, the Center for New Performance, Cape Cod Theatre Project, Alley Theatre and others. His re-interpretations of classics from Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape to Hamlet have received awards and critical praise in Chicago. Recent projects include directing the upcoming world premiere of Adrienne Kennedy play, Etta and Ella on the Upper West Side for the Center of New Performance in California and Dave Harris’ Incendiary at Woolly Mammoth in Washington, DC. As a writer, his plays include American Teenager (a commission from the Goodman Theatre) and Black Like Me, an adaptation of the 1961 novel currently in development with The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Cole was one of four writers in the Goodman Theatre’s Playwrights Unit and is currently an Artist in Residence at the Center for New Performance, a fellow at Hermitage Artist Retreat, and a Research Scholar of the Bridge to Faculty at UIC. In 2021, Cole directed three short films: “Six Feet Apart” by Isaac Gomez, “Sons of Toledo”, written by Cole and Matt Foss, and his own short, “Whole”. “Sons of Toledo” has appeared in film festivals around the world including winning Best African American Short at the Phoenix Film Festival, while “Six Feet Apart” made its world premiere at the Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles and “Whole” is finishing post-production. Monty has a BA in Theatre Studies from Emerson College and an MFA Directing degree from the California Institute of the Arts.
YEAJI KIM she/her (Scenic Design) is excited to work with American Blues Theater for the first time. Yeaji is a scenic and video projections designer based in Chicago. Her recent Chicago credits include White (Steppenwolf Theatre LookOut Series; Scenic & Projections design), In Every Generation (Victory Garden Theater; Projections design), Passage, The Year Of Magical Thinking (Remy Bumppo Theatre; Scenic design), Solaris (Griffin Theatre; Projections design), The Secret Council (First Folio Theatre; Projections design). Her regional credits are The Chinese Lady (Geva Theatre, Kitchen Theatre, NY; Scenic design). Her projections design for Strawdog’s The Effect has been nominated for 2020 Jeff Awards Non-Equity Projections Design, and her scenic design for The Great Expectations (Co-production Remy Bumppo & Silk Road Rising) was nominated for Best Scenic Design for Broadway World Chicago. Future projects include Dear Jack Dear Louise (Northlight Theatre, IL), Fun Home (Paramount, IL). For more information, please visit yeajikimdesign.com.
JARED GOODING he/him (Lighting Design) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. His design credits include designs for Writers Theatre, Court Theatre, Florentine Opera Company, Indiana Repertory Theatre, First Stage Theater, Depaul University, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Victory Gardens Theater, TimeLine Theatre, Bristol Riverside Theater, Madison Children’s Theater, University of Illinois Chicago Theatre, University of Indiana Northwest, Remy Bumpo Theatre, Strawdog Theatre, The Hypocrites, Definition Theatre, Windy City Playhouse, Sideshow Theatre, Jackalope Theatre, First Floor Theater, About Face Theatre, MPAACT, Pegasus Theatre, and serving as the Lighting Assistant for The Wiz Live on NBC along with Associate Designing for Lookingglass Theatre’s touring of Lookingglass Alice in Miami and Denver. He spends weekends as a professional DJ and his design work is work is featured at goodingdesigns.com.
STEPHANIE CLUGGISH she/her (Costume Design) is making her American Blues Theater debut. She is a Chicago based costume designer and Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois Chicago. Most recently she has designed with Haymarket Opera Company, Theatreworks Colorado, A Red Orchid Theatre, and Theatre Raleigh. She is also an active member of USA829 and Co-Chair of the National Costume Department United Best Practices Committee. She is thrilled to join Monty and the American Blues team to bring this play to life. See more at stephanie-cluggish.com.
RICK SIMS he/him (Sound Design) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. He has composed and designed sound for numerous Chicago-area theaters, including Steppenwolf Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre Company, American Blues Theater, Congo Square Theatre, Writers Theatre, Lifeline Theatre, Griffin Theatre, Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Hypocrites, House Theatre of Chicago, Court Theatre, American Theater Company, Victory Gardens Theater, Raven Theatre, Steep Theatre, Northlight Theatre, and About Face Theatre. His additional credits include The Getty, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Arden Theatre Company, Playwrights Horizons, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and Portland Playhouse. Rick won Jeff Awards for Sound Design for Moby Dick and Hepheastus (Lookingglass Theatre Company), a Black Theatre Alliance Award for Brothers in the Dust (Congo Square Theatre), and has received several nominations for both awards. Rick also wrote the book, music, and lyrics for Hillbilly Antigone at Lookingglass Theatre Company, where he is an Artistic Associate.
VERITY NEELY she/her (Props Design) is a Properties Designer from Central Wisconsin. She has recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, and has been able to work on musicals, plays, and dance. In the last year, Verity had the opportunity to work with NewArts in Connecticut, as well as an upcoming dance company: Sock Opera Dance. She greatly enjoys the theatrical world and how we are able to create meaningful, as well as fun works that not only move the audience but the actors and designers that get the opportunity to see them. She loves helping create a space in which anyone who enters, can escape their reality for a moment and be entertained and captivated.
CHARLIE BAKER he/him & they/them (Fight & Intimacy Direction) is thrilled to be returning to American Blues. Previous Blues productions include Roan @ the Gates. Charlie has also worked with Court Theater, Marriott Theater, University of Chicago, among others. Most recently Charlie served as guest resident intimacy director for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and teaches intimacy direction with Intimacy Directors and Coordinators. Charlie would like to thank their mentor Rachel Flesher.
DANIEL C. BROWN he/him (Assistant Fight & Intimacy Direction) considers it an honor to assist in intimacy/violence design in this, his first collaboration with American Blues Theater. Other works of his include Hoodoo Love (Raven Theatre), Hang Man (The Gift), and Natural Affection (Eclipse Theater Company).
MONET FELTON they/them (Assistant Director) is a Director, Producer, Writer, Teaching Artist, and company member at Jackalope Theatre. Monet earned their BFA in Acting at The University of Illinois at Chicago, where they currently teach as an Adjunct Lecturer for their non-majors theatre class. They are currently studying to be certified in Alexander Technique. Monet is a proud member of the Steppenwolf Teaching Artist Cohort. They have had the opportunity of working theatre’s such as Chautauqua Theater Company, American Blues Theater, Jackalope Theatre, Stage 773, Court Theatre, Writers Theatre, Steppenwolf for Young Adults, Bluebird Arts, and Artistic Home. They are happy to be working with American Blues for the first time!
RACHEL WEST she/her (Associate Lighting Design and Master Electrician) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. She recently worked as Asst Lighting Designer & Master Electrician on It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! and as Master Electrician on Stand Up If You’re Here Tonight. She has been serving as the Master Electrician for American Blues since 2018. Rachel is the Lighting Supervisor for Porchlight Music Theatre where she recently designed Nunsense and Passing Strange as part of their Revisits series of lost musicals. She works with The Black Ensemble Theater, Mercury Theater, and volunteers with the Maine-Niles Association of Special Recreation teaching theater to individuals with special needs. She is a Chicago-area native and a graduate of Boston University School of Theatre.
DELENA BRADLEY she/her (Associate Costume Designer) is a costume and scenic designer currently based out of Chicago, IL. She received her M.F.A. from The University of Texas at Austin in 2020. Recent credits include: costume design for Much Ado About Nothing at Asolo Repertory Theatre/FSU, costume and scenic design for The Infinite Energy of Ada Lovelace at Third Eye Theatre Ensemble (Chicago), costume design for; Alcina, Lucio Silla, and Albert Herring at Chicago Summer Opera, and production and costume design for Addict Named Hal a feature film by Lane Stanley (Austin, TX). Delena received her bachelor’s degree in Theatre Technology and Design from Ball State University in 2012.
SHANDEE VAUGHAN she/her (Production Manager) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater and is excited to be working with this incredible team for Fences! Blues credits: Stand Up if You’re Here Tonight, Roan @ the Gates, Five Presidents, The Spitfire Grill, The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, On Clover Road, It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago (2016 & 2018-2021), Flyin’ West, The Buddy Holly Story, The Columnist, and Little Shop of Horrors. Other recent Chicago credits include: In Every Generation (Victory Gardens), Time Is On Our Side (About Face Theatre), Deathscribe X (WildClaw Theatre), Night in Alachua County (WildClaw Theatre), and The Woman in Black (WildClaw Theatre). Shandee is a production manager and stage manager from Arizona. She is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.
MANNY ORTIZ he/him (Technical Director) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. He is thrilled to be working with American Blues theater again after having Technical Directed The Spitfire Grill, It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, Five Presidents, and Roan @ the Gates. Manuel received his BFA in Acting at DePaul University’s Theater School and expanded on his love for theater as a Technical Director, Scenic Designer, Props Master, Scenic Charge and many more! He has currently found a new path of educating and broadening the minds of grades 6th-12th in stagecraft and design for production at North Shore Country Day School. Using theater to show students the wonders of a creative mindset and approach to life in its many forms, Manuel hopes to better the theater community through education and mentorship.
CARA PARRISH she/her (Stage Manager) is a proud Ensemble Member of American Blues Theater where she is also the Office & HR Manager. Chicago credits include productions at Court Theatre, Writers Theatre, TimeLine Theatre Company, Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook, and Chicago Children’s Theatre, as well as Stand Up If You’re Here Tonight, Beauty’s Daughter, and Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story at American Blues Theater. Cara thanks her family and friends for all of their love and support.
BREANA YOUNG she/her (Assistant Stage Manager) Growing up with a love for anything entertaining, she graduated from UIC with a bachelor’s degree in Theatre Design in 2017. Since then she has worked on many plays surrounding the Chicago area.
CARLY JO GEER she/her (Young Performer Supervisor) received her BA in Acting from Columbia College Chicago and since graduating, has dipped her toe in a variety of theatrical experiences. In order to fill her creative needs, Carly began writing and performing her own solo show, I Come From Hoarders which premiered in 2017 and was published in 2021 in At The Intersection of Disability and Drama: A Critical Anthology of New Plays. Carly Jo can also be heard as the voice of several Revlon hair product videos on Amazon. Besides acting, she also hosts a Degrassi recap podcast with her cousin Jessie Mack called “A Social Disease” which is available to stream on all major podcast apps. Carly Jo is excited to be a part of this cast as the young performer supervisor as it is a perfect combination of her love of theatre and children.
Scenic art provided by ALTMAN ART HAUS (Altman, Abbott, Gant).
We raise awareness of other non-profit organizations’ great causes through creative collaborations. We’re proud to partner with Northwestern University’s The Family Institute, and Chicago Public Schools.
MORE INFORMATION ON AUGUST WILSON’S FENCES
Backstage Guide for August Wilson’s FENCES and Additional Resources
Inside look at August Wilson’s FENCES – read interviews, see designs, & learn more about the production.
Director’s Note for August Wilson’s FENCES
Read Director Monty Cole’s note for his re-imagined vision of August Wilson’s masterpiece.
Artistic Director’s Note for August Wilson’s FENCES
Read the welcome note by Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside.
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