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August Wilson's play wins Best Revival and more at Tony Awards

Linda Armstrong | 4/12/2011, 5:28 p.m.

The brilliance of the late, great August Wilson was recognized at the 64th annual Tony Awards in Radio City Music Hall this past Sunday, as "Fences" received the Best Revival of a Play Award--the Tony's top dramatic honor!

This honor was bestowed on the show after the two lead actors, Viola Davis and Denzel Washington, respectively, won accolades as both received the Tony for Best Performance by a Lead Actress and Lead Actor in a Play. It was so exciting to watch as first Viola's name was called and then Denzel's.

When the show won, one of the producers, Carole Shorenstein, thanked everyone and exclaimed, "August Wilson--this is for you!!"

A visibly moved Davis shared, "I believe in the presence of God in my life. I was born in circumstances where I couldn't see it with my eyes, touch it with my hands--so I had to believe it. It feels like a divine experience eight times a week."

Washington said that he had been rewarded by having a brilliant cast. He then added, "I'm amazed, I'm surprised and I'm blessed."

When Davis and Washington took the stage in front of the press in the media room, they continued to share how much being in Wilson's play meant to them.

Viola Davis described doing an August Wilson play to "Death of a Salesman." "Only because 'Death of a Salesman' was the first time a playwright created a tragic hero as an ordinary man. To watch Troy and watch the whole character evolve and to be a part of that every single night is really an amazing experience.

"When you're traveling that journey, you really don't know what to expect, and I think that's part of the pleasure for the audience. It's so fitting that as soon as he finished the 10th play of the cycle, which is what he intended, that he passed. It's like that's what he was anointed to do. There's an anointing on this play."

When a reporter asked the two leads about being singled out as the lead stars of the show, Washington was quick to explain, "We were never singled out as the two leads, the whole cast is one. Kenny Leon's a great director. After every rehearsal and before the show, we always get together in a circle and we end the day together as a unit. There are no individuals. As Kenny says as well, August Wilson is music and it takes the whole band."

To the late Wilson, Davis said, "Congratulations, well done."

Denzel said, "What can you say, but 'thank you'? August Wilson will live on and I hope that other young actors and writers are inspired."

Kenny Leon, the play's director; Constanza Romera, Wilson's widow and the play's costume designer; and William T, one of the cast members, also added their thoughts about the production and Washington and Davis' performances.

"I'm excited and humbled. I couldn't be more proud of Denzel and Viola and what they did on that stage. So it's a big night, it's a good night. August Wilson has done more for American theater than anyone I can think of. He deserves respect, it's a big night for August--I wish he was here," shared Leon.