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The Hill District Becomes Home to Denzel Washington’s Latest Project

August Wilson's "Fences" is Coming to the Big Screen

This Summer “Fences”, a film adapted from the August Wilson play written in 1983, will be filming in Pittsburgh’s Hill district. Viola Davis and Denzel Washington will star in the film which explores racial tensions for African Americans during the 1950’s. Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in the 2010 stage production of "Fences".
Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in the 2010 stage production of “Fences”.

Playwright August Wilson grew up in the Hill District and, during the 1980’s, wrote a series of 10 plays known as the the “Pittsburgh Cycle”. Nine of the ten plays are set in the Hill District where Wilson’s childhood home still stands. “Fences” follows the journey of the Maxson family as they struggle to build a life with the hand they have been dealt by society.

Denzel Washington will be portraying Troy Maxson, a former baseball player who never managed to break into the Major Leagues because of the prominent race barrier in 1950’s America. This will be Washington’s second time playing the role of Troy Maxson. He first played the character in 2010 at NYC’s Cort Theatre alongside current co-star, Viola Davis. This time around, Washington will also be directing and producing Wilson’s play turned movie which is set to start filming on April 18.

Many residents of the Hill District have reported sightings of Denzel Washington in and around the neighborhood, saying that he has become a regular figure in the weeks leading up to filming. The “Fences” crew is currently hard at work renovating a home in the Hill District which will reportedly be used as the onscreen home of the Maxson family.

Devon Christopher Adams/ Flickr The Hill District Neighborhood

Devon Christopher Adams/ Flickr
The Hill District Neighborhood

Personal friend of the late August Wilson, Sala Udin, told CBS that Denzel Washington has signed with HBO to film the 9 other plays in the “Pittsburgh Cycle”. With nine more productions in sight, these films could potentially create big revenue for local businesses and vendors.

“Fences” will film from April 18 to June 10, employing the help of local actors found through open casting earlier this month.

About Julianna Bagwell (104 Articles)
Julianna Bagwell is the Managing Editor for LOCALpittsburgh as well as a freelance writer for various publications including At her core, she is an extreme foodie and dog enthusiast.