PLAYS: ‘Fences’

  I don’t know if I’m being fair here, but in my Theater Chat column Friday (at, I noted that at a benefit for the Ira Aldridge Theater Company at the Nicolas Horn recently, most of the VIP attendees left before the second act. (Many left BEFORE the first act!) I found it sad since some of them made speeches about the importance of theater to the local community. But if they felt theater was so important, why didn’t they stay for Walter Mason’s fascinating production of August Wilson’s "Fences"?
  A friend I respect says I’m demanding too much. The names came, got interviewed, accepted their award for their support of the arts, and then went home. What’s wrong with that? — at least they did their bit to raise money for a worthy cause. What I think is wrong with that is it betrays a disrespect to an artist that they were pretending to honor. How many of the commissioners and judges and senate representatives go to art galleries for press openings, praying to God the ceremony will be over soon so that they can hurry back to Simon Cowell?
  I know, I know, audiences have a right to leave whenever they desire, but there’s something wrong with this picture. Maybe one of the reasons theater doesn’t get much local support is that our local politicians don’t really believe in its value — they just feel they’re supposed to, so they fake it.
  Maybe some of these "celebs" can help me out  here. Why did you leave at "Fences"?

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