Yesterday, my American Drama class had its first discussion. The topic was August Wilson’s Fences. I definitely took a lesson from the talk, and it wasn’t from the professor, but from one of my fellow students: I need to learn how to read. Or more precisely, I need to learn how to read like some of my classmates.
In particular, one young woman in the class pointed something out that no one else had noticed. There’s a scene (spoilers!) in the second act where the protagonist, Troy, comes home to tell his wife Ruth that’s he’s fathered a child with another woman. That woman dies, and Rose agrees to bring the baby into the family and take care of it. There are some confrontations between Troy and Rose, and at one point, she leaves the house to carry a cake to the church.
My fellow student noticed that up until that point, while many characters had come and gone from the house where Ruth and Troy live, including Troy himself, Ruth’s stage exits had always been into another part of the house. This was the first time she didn’t do that. She’s always been protrayed as in the home, but in a single stage direction (ROSE exits the yard.), the world changes. The psychological impact is huge. Troy comes in to a house without her presence. possibly for the first time in their relationship.
This is reading like a director needs to do, like a dramaturge would, and something I need to practice as well. Brava to the blonde in the second row, and thanks for the lesson.