Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC) will present the contemporary thriller “American Son” by Christopher Demos-Brown, directed by Jonathan Fox, April 9-24 at The New Vic, 33 W. Victoria St. Santa Barbara.
Preview performances start at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7; the show opens at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 9. This is the fourth show of the ETC 2021-22 season. “American Son” is a collaboration with The English Theatre Frankfurt, Germany.
The play is a nail-biting drama that takes place in real-time in the waiting room of a Miami police station where, in the middle of the night, the parents of an African-American teenager anxiously await news of their son, who may have been picked up by the police.
The play looks at subtle, and not-so-subtle, racial dynamics in American culture.
“We have been eager to finally bring this compelling and important new play to The New Vic stage since the production was halted in 2020,” said Jonathan Fox, ETC artistic director.
“The questions it raises about race in today’s America are even more vital and urgent than two years ago, and the playwright, Christopher Demos-Brown, has been working with us to incorporate events of the past two years,” Fox said.
“We have assembled an extraordinary cast and design team to bring this suspenseful and riveting work to life on The New Vic stage,” he said.
The “American Son” cast features Tracey A. Leigh as Kendra, playing a professor of psychology and mother, desperately trying to find out what has happened to her son. Jamison Jones plays her recently separated husband Scott, an FBI agent who is also the boy’s deeply devoted father.
Alex Morris plays Lt. John Stokes, a no-nonsense career police officer who has paid his dues, knows the rules and has no problem enforcing them. Toby Tropper portrays “Officer Paul Larkin,” a young, green police officer with bold career ambitions.
“American Son” had a successful run at the Booth Theatre on Broadway, directed by Kenny Leon, and starring Kerry Washington, Steven Pasquale, Jeremy Jordan and Eugene Lee. The play was adapted as 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 trial lawyer and former prosecutor, has written more than a dozen full-length plays and screenplays. His honors include the Laurents/Hatcher Award and a Steinberg Citation from The American Theatre Critics Association. His plays include “American Hero,” “Captiva,” “Stripped,” and “When The Sun Shone Brighter.”
Scenic design is by Charlie Corcoran; lighting design by Michael Rathbun; sound design by Randall Robert Tico; costume design by Dianne K. Graebner; and properties design by John M. McElveney. The production dramaturg is Anna Jensen. Casting is by Amy Lieberman. Jessica Haro is the production stage manager.
Performances are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sundays; with added performances at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 12 and 4 p.m. Saturday, April 16. There will be no 7 p.m. performance Sunday, April 17.
Ticket prices are $42-$72. Single tickets are available through the ETC box office, 805-965-5400, or online at etcsb.org.
“American Son” is made possible through 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’s ventilation system to meet current standards, including higher grade filters and bringing in 40% outdoor air. Lobby restrooms have additional air-purifying stations. Check www.etcsb.org for updated procedures before your scheduled performance date.