The American Tradition
by Ray Yamanouchi
New Light Theater Project, 2019
Director: Axel Avin, Jr.
Set Designer: Brian Dudkewicz
Costume Designer: Samantha Rose Lind
Sound Designer: Enrico De Trizio
Props Designer: Leila Ben-Abdallah
Lighting Designer: Elaine Wong
Prod. Stage Manager: Chelsea Friday
Asst. Stage Manager: Al Parker
Photography by Jody Christopherson and Elaine Wong
A new play written by Ray Yamanouchi for New Light Theater Project's New Voices series, The American Tradition is a dark comedy that critically examines the tradition of American racism. The story begins with two slaves, Eleanor and Bill, escaping the Antebellum south. However, the metanarrative over the course of the play shifts the audience into present day 2019, simultaneously satirizing, while impelling modern comparison to, the defences of slavery presented in the not-so-distant past. At turns campy, and at turns steeped in violence viewed through the lens of blacksploitation film, the play empowers Eleanor, Bill, Rose (another runaway slave) to escape, but leaves the audience questioning whether completely escaping institutionalized racism is truly possible.
In support of the Brechtian scenic design, where all characters and materials are exposed for the duration of the play, the primary focus of the lighting was to help move the play from location to location, shifting from the blistering heat of the auction block to the covert cover of a night time escape. As well, the lighting emphasized the heightened sensationalism of the action with dramatic colours and specials designed to carve out the space.