Last Friday, only 5 actors took the stage at Actors Theatre, for the worldwide premier of Brownsville song (b-side for tray) as part of the Humana Festival of New American Plays. The play was written by Kimber Lee and directed by Meredith McDonough.
“It’s enormously important to have a champion and we have the honor of championing Kimber Lee”, said Les Waters, the Artistic Director for Actors Theatre.
Brownsville song (b-side for tray) is the story of a family living in Brooklyn, New York, trying to rise above the status quo of their community. The leading character, Tray (played by John Clarence Stewart), is only 18 years old when his life, dreams and aspirations are ended by a senseless killing. Through Tray's death, the audience is left to wonder if Tray's life could have amounted to more.
Tray was an up-and-coming boxer and was encouraged to write an essay for a college scholarship; which was a vast difference in most kids his age in his neighborhood. “He ain’t even in the news”, as Lena (played by Cherene Snow), Tray’s grandmother explains in an opening monologue, describing that murders are common in their lower income neighborhood.
The story of Tray’s life is told through a series of flashbacks, from before his death and present day; that invites the audience into the family’s lives and struggles. Relationship dynamics are also explored as Tray extends grace to his mother Merrell (played by Jackie Chung), who had previously abandoned him earlier in his life.
Brownsville song (b-side for tray) is a must-see play that breaks down barriers between classes; allowing the audience to connect with the characters on a personal level for their desire of hope.
Language is strong and explicit at times and should be considered when bringing younger attendees.
Photo credit from www.actorstheatre.com