Holiday Magic Approaches as an August Wilson Wish Comes True


By CoCo Harris

Holiday magic is coming to a theater near you as August Wilson’s Fences, starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, is slated to open on Christmas Day.  Wilson fans across the country and around the world are looking forward to this much-awaited release.

Fences is directed by Denzel, who is also under contract with HBO to direct the remaining nine plays of Wilson’s Century Cycle.

Wilson, you may recall, was resolute in his desire for a black director. In an interview with professors Sandra Shannon and Dana Williams[1], the two-time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright spoke to the permanence of the medium of film with regard to this demand.

When Professor Williams probed, “But you had white directors for your plays. What’s the difference between that and having a white director for your film?”

“The difference is that film is forever,” Wilson retorted. “A film will be here 150 years from now. I would want that permanent record to be best reflected by a person of my culture.”

The two major issues at stake for Wilson are permanence and cultural verisimilitude. Any art that can be consumed for generations to come should be preserved in its most authentic form —as the artist intended.

Furthermore, Wilson contends that these plays are his story.  “The plays are my autobiography decade by decade,” he told Herb Boyd in an interview in 2000[2].

Denzel and Viola, along with Stephen McKinley Henderson, Mykelti Williamson, and Russell Hornsby all starred in the 2010 acclaimed Broadway revival of Fences —and this same crew, joined by other cast mates, will resurrect this work in theaters this holiday season.

Denzel announced last year that he would bring the entire August Wilson Century Cycle to screen as reported by Playbill last fall. The Hollywood Reporter has given us first glimpses of this production. The trailer for Fences is on

So, on Christmas Day, the world gets to experience a wonderful and familiar story about the tensions that exist between fathers and sons.

And, on Christmas Day, an August Wilson wish comes true. Not only does the beloved Denzel star in the leading role, he also directs this anticipated adaptation of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize winning play.

Verisimilitude delivered.


[1] August Wilson and Black Aesthetics, Eds. Dana Williams and Sandra Shannon, Palgrave Macmillan (2004)

[2] Conversations with August Wilson, Eds. Jackson Bryer and Mary Hartig, UP of Mississippi (2006)

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