Letting the full force of August Wilson’s talent in through ‘Fences’ One morning, in the midst of rehearsals for the movie version of “Fences,” three of the cast members, Mykelti Williamson, Russell Hornsby and Stephen McKinley Henderson, roused a fourth, Jovan Adepo. “We’re going to breakfast,” they told him. “Tag along.” In actuality, they were bringing the young Adepo, a British-born actor and graduate of Bowie State University in Prince George’s County, Maryland, on a far more meaningful mission. Together, they took a short ride to Greenwood Cemetery on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, where they located the grave of the man who brought them to this crucial intersection of their artistic lives: August Wilson, who wrote both the play and screenplay of the Pulitzer Prize-winning work. “We whispered to him how much we needed his help and his guidance,” said Williamson, who plays the role of Gabriel, a brain-damaged World War II veteran in the film, directed by one of its stars, Denzel Washington. It was one of the most important days in this journey.” And especially significant for Adepo, who, unlike the other three, was entirely new to this piece, Wilson’s best-known drama for the stage — and astonishingly, only the first of his works ever to receive big-screen Hollywood treatment. “It was an incredible experience to have that moment of fellowship,” Adepo said. “It made me feel more part of the family.” In more ways than one, a family is indeed what Washington and movie producer Scott Rudin had created for the film incarnation of “Fences,” which opens Christmas Day. For this breakthrough event in the illustrious production history of the work of Wilson — who died 11 years ago, at age 60 — a team was not so much hired as reassembled, to tell the tragedy-laced story of proud, disappointed Troy Maxson, his long-suffering wife and their embittered sons, living in a working-class Pittsburgh neighborhood of the 1950s. The leading players, including Washington and Viola Davis as Troy and his wife, Rose, have been transplanted from a Broadway mounting in 2010 that won Tony Awards for both stars, as well as one for best revival of a play, under the direction of Kenny Leon. Only Adepo, as younger son Corey, and Saniyya Sidney, as little Raynell, freshly join the cast. In this regard, “Fences” is something of a throwback to the days when film producers signed up Broadway actors to reprise their roles for the movie adaptations of major plays: Think of Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke in “The Miracle Worker,” or Marlon Brando, Karl Malden and Kim Hunter in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Unusual, too, is the fact that the screenplay, written by Wilson, with some minor trims by fellow Pulitzer winner Tony Kushner, is entirely the dialogue Wilson set down, in that particular poetry of African-American aspiration that distinguishes him as one of the greatest dramatists the country has ever produced. Wilson, in fact, famously wrote a cycle of 10 plays, one for each decade of the 20th century, that includes such masterworks as “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “The Piano Lesson,” which in 1995 was turned into a film for television by Hallmark Hall of Fame. They speak, often eloquently, sometimes metaphorically and each in their own distinctive cadence, to the tragic and lighter-hearted struggles of black people, mostly in the cafes, boardinghouses and backyards of Wilson’s own childhood, Pittsburgh’s Hill District. “Fences” takes place smack dab in the middle of the cycle, telling the story of a stressed family, economically and psychically, in the vein of Arthur’s Miller’s seminal “Salesman.” It was first performed on Broadway in 1987, with James Earl Jones as Troy, Mary Alice as Rose and Courtney Vance as Corey. Troy is a former Negro League baseball star who failed to cross over in the time before Jackie Robinson managed to bring down the racial barriers of the white-only major leagues.