August Wilson’s Signification on the Kójódá within the “Structurally Conservative” Fences


  • Omiyemi (Artisia) Green William & Mary



Fences, Kojoda, Yoruba, Ethnocultural Dramatic Structure


Despite being hailed as August Wilson’s “most structurally conservative work . . . modeled on the well-made play” (Savran 20), the plot of Fences signifies on a Yorùbá concept of measuring time, the Kójódá, and thus, the play has an Ethnocultural Dramatic Structure. Within an EDS framework the usual posts along which well-made plays are developed—exposition, inciting incident, climax, falling action, and resolution—are influenced by and/or at times, wholly subordinate to the African cultural and/or temporal signifiers of the racial or ethnic group at the center of the text. In this fashion, Wilson dramatically treats the experiences of Black Americans, with full cognizance of Western formulaic constructions in playwriting, yet the social behaviors of his characters and his plotlines are propelled by identifiable diasporic formations of indigenous African practices and concepts.

Author Biography

Omiyemi (Artisia) Green, William & Mary

Omiyẹmi (Artisia) Green is a Professor of Theatre and Africana Studies at William & Mary. An Ifá-Òrìṣà priest, director, dramaturg, and interdisciplinary scholar, Omiyẹmi is published in Continuum, the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society Journal Peer Review Section, the August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle: Critical Perspectives on the Plays (McFarland), African American Culture: An Encyclopedia of People, Traditions, and Customs (Greenwood), FIRE!!! The Multimedia Journal of Black Studies, the Journal of American Folklore, and Journal of American Drama and Theatre.


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