Michael Keaton and Jenna Bush Hager mistakenly referring to Hidden Figures as "Hidden Fences" during the Golden Globes became the blunder that launched dozens of memes. Twitter gave Hager the digital fade despite a tearful apology, but lost in those funny memes were some deadly serious concepts about race and culture. Comedian and writer Jordan Temple, whose previous credits include MTV’s Decoded, took those concepts to the stage with his first play, Hidden Fences.
As the name implies, the play mashes up Fences character Troy Maxon with Hidden Figures, as Maxon attempts to become the first black man to hit a baseball into space.
Given the theatrical roots of Fences, the parody naturally lends itself to a stage adaptation. Temple turned two extremely serious works into a comedy by incorporating various other pop culture elements into a play he initially wrote in two weeks. As is the case with many jokes, there was some thoughtful commentary weaved into the comedy. Here it was great moments in “Black Twitter” history being appropriated for mass consumption with no attribution.
“Jokes in general are just things no one else has said—especially when it’s original comedy, like Black Twitter is and can be,” Temple told Complex. “Turning GIFs and things into concepts we don't get credit for is just abysmal. It’s exploited for mass consumption, and then we never get credit. When the flub happened in the first place, that made it all the more outrageous.”
The timing of Jenna Bush Hager’s mistake, Temple’s quick turnaround, and another “Hidden Fences” flub provided by People and Entertainment Weekly Editorial Director Jess Cagle all came together at the perfect moment. Cagle’s mistake occurred between first and second showings of Hidden Fences, basically providing additional free publicity and keeping the source material in the news cycle. So should audiences prepare for some uncomfortable laughs and reference points?
"A lot of the references are universal, but 60 to 70 percent of them are available to white people who enjoy black culture but not in a money-mongering way," Temple added. "It’s presented in a way that black people are of the American lexicon and culture. Black culture is American culture. A lot of the references are from black movies, arts and culture."
Hidden Fences stars Jordan Temple, with Mamoudou N'Diaye as Cory, Karolena Theresa as Rosemary, Shalewa Sharpe as Katherine Johnson, Tahlia Robinson as Dorothy Vaughan, Clark Jones as Lyons. Holden McNeely, Julian Williams, Gary Richardson and James III round out the cast, while Langston Kerman is also on the bill as himself and the play's host.
This is the third mounting of Hidden Fences. Follow the official Hidden Fences Facebook page for information on purchasing tickets and the location for upcoming shows.