PLAYS: “Fences” revisited

  In a blog posted below, I talked about the unusual exodus of nearly all the audience members during the intermission of a benefit performance for the Ira Aldridge Theatre Company’s production of August Wilson’s "Fences" at the Nicholas Horn. This was in addition to my mentioning this in a Theater Chat column ( For those still interested, I just received a helpful letter from someone involved in the evening. I think it’s worth sharing:
  "I was interested in your review of the play "Fences" in today’s Neon and have to agree with you on one point; the first act was dynamic (or ‘not mediocre’ in your words). It was a long play and a very long night, and no doubt the cast was affected by that night’s particular circumstances.
  "First this was a benefit performance and certain individuals were acknowledged. This all takes time and impacted the performers as well as the audience. T
he cast sat backstage an additional 90 minutes beyond the scheduled curtain, because of prolonged congratulations and acknowledgments. The actors had to try and keep the momentum going when things got bogged down due to events out of their control.
  "The lobby, where refreshments and appetizers were served continuously, was a comfortable temperature, and even if it might have been cool, people were eating, drinking and moving around, all activities bound to keep a person comfortable. The theater, by contrast was like a meat locker, at least 20 degrees cooler, and seated patrons might have found it difficult to stay warm.
  "This benefit performance happened on a Thursday night with remarks scheduled to begin at 7:30 and end at 8 p.m. The theater began to fill just after 7, acknowledgments began about 740 and lasted until almost 8:45. Then the curtain finally went up on the night’s performance; and yes, this is an almost three-hour long play. Small wonder the performers, as well as the audience, didn’t meet your complete expectations."


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