Racial dynamics play out in ‘American Son’ storyline at New Vic | Culture & Leisure

Posted on April 2, 2022
| 2:45 p.m.

Click to view larger

Alex Morris, left, and Tracey A. Leigh rehearse a scene for the Ensemble Theater Company’s production of ‘American Son’. (Zach Mendez)

Ensemble Theater Company (ETC) will present the contemporary thriller “American Son” by Christopher Demos-Brown, directed by Jonathan Fox, from April 9-24 at The New Vic, 33 W. Victoria St. Santa Barbara.

Previews start at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 7; the show opens at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 9. This is the fourth show of the ETC 2021-22 season. “American Son” is a collaboration with The English Theater Frankfurt, Germany.

The play is a heart-pounding drama that unfolds in real time in a Miami police station waiting room where, in the middle of the night, the parents of an African-American teenager anxiously await news of their son, who may have were arrested by the police.

The play delves into the subtle and not-so-subtle racial dynamics of American culture.

“We’ve been looking forward to finally bringing this captivating and important new piece to The New Vic’s stage since production halted in 2020,” said ETC Artistic Director Jonathan Fox.

“The questions it raises about race in America today are even more vital and urgent than two years ago, and playwright Christopher Demos-Brown has worked with us to incorporate the events of last two years,” Fox said.

“We have assembled an extraordinary cast and design team to bring this thrilling and captivating work to life on The New Vic stage,” he said.

The cast of “American Son” features Tracey A. Leigh as Kendra, playing a psychology professor and mother, desperately trying to find out what happened to her son. Jamison Jones plays her recently estranged husband Scott, an FBI agent who is also the boy’s deeply devoted father.

Alex Morris plays Lt. John Stokes, a no-nonsense career cop who’s paid his dues, knows the rules, and has no problem enforcing them. Toby Tropper plays “Officer Paul Larkin”, a young green cop with bold career ambitions.

“American Son” had a hit at the Booth Theater on Broadway, directed by Kenny Leon, and starring Kerry Washington, Steven Pasquale, Jeremy Jordan and Eugene Lee. The play has been adapted into a feature film on Netflix.

Fox joined ETC in 2006. His most recent ETC productions were “Lillian”, “An Iliad”, Measure for Measure, “Everything is Illuminated”, and “The School for Lies”. He adapted and directed ETC’s 2017 production of Woody Allen’s “Husbands and Wives.”

Demos-Brown, a practicing barrister and former prosecutor, has written more than a dozen plays and screenplays. His honors include the Laurents/Hatcher Award and a Steinberg Citation from the American Theater Critics Association. His tracks include “American Hero”, “Captiva”, “Stripped” and “When The Sun Shone Brighter”.

The scenic design is by Charlie Corcoran; lighting design by Michael Rathbun; sound design by Randall Robert Tico; costume design by Dianne K. Graebner; and property design by John M. McElveney. The production’s playwright is Anna Jensen. Casting is done by Amy Lieberman. Jessica Haro is the production manager.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sunday; with additional performances at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12 and 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 16. There will be no performance at 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 17.

Ticket prices are $42 to $72. Individual tickets are available at the ETC box office, 805-965-5400, or online at etcsb.org.

“American Son” is made possible by ETC’s 2021-22 season sponsor, Dana White. This production is sponsored by the Zegar Family Foundation with additional sponsorship from Titus Brenninkmeijer, Donna and Dan Hone, the Herbert and Elaine Kendall Family Foundation, Sybil Rosen, Joan Rutkowski, Barbara and Sam Toumayan.

The New Vic has upgraded its theater ventilation system to meet current standards, including premium filters and 40% outside air intake. Lobby restrooms have additional air purification stations. Check www.etcsb.org for up-to-date procedures before your scheduled performance date.

Comments are closed.