American Son, a play by Christopher Demos-Brown, already had a power-packed premise before recent events. On the night a teenage boy goes missing, his parents end up at the police station trying to figure out what happened while dealing with officers who aren’t the most forthcoming with information and assistance. While old wounds concerning their rocky marriage are reopened in the process, the action is steeped in themes of racism, police brutality, and community.
American Son ran on Broadway for nearly three months in 2018-19 followed by a film adaptation that premiered a year later on Netflix. Ensemble Theatre Company was supposed to have staged the West Coast debut in April before COVID-19 closed down such gatherings. The May 25 death of George Floyd, who was killed by police in Minneapolis during an arrest on May 25, and the ensuing and ongoing protests, the work has even more resonance. While ETC has no clear date yet for when they will stage American Son, the company and the Santa Barbara Public Library have teamed up to present a free virtual book club discussion of the play at 5:30 pm on Monday, August 17. The event will be moderated by ETC’s artistic director Jonathan Fox and James Joyce III, the founder of Coffee With A Black Guy, a program that holds frequent community conversations about race. Copies of the play are available from the central library or can be purchased at www.concordtheatricals.com/p/65467/american-son. Registration for the event, which is required, online at https://santabarbaraca.evanced.info/signup/EventDetails?eventid=32369.