The American Tradition
Closed 1h 25m
The American Tradition
77

The American Tradition NYC Reviews and Tickets

77%
(26 Reviews)
Positive
77%
Mixed
23%
Negative
0%
Members say
Relevant, Ambitious, Great acting, Clever, Thought-provoking

About the Show

New Light Theater Project's world premiere is set in Antebellum America with an absurd and Brechtian twist. 

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Member Reviews (26)

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84
Thought-provoking, Exciting, Uneven, Well played

See it if you are interested in experiencing a deliberately provocative take on how the legacy of slavery continues to shape the US today.

Don't see it if you get queasy when you have to take a hard look at the dark underbelly of US history. Read more

81
Clever, Great acting, Entertaining, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you would enjoy a fresh take on the antebellum south in an entertaining story that could have been true. Strong acting and support team.

Don't see it if you are skittish with strong language and violence or want a full staged production - this is minimal but effective staging and costuming.

Critic Reviews (8)

Time Out New York
February 15th, 2019

“In Ray Yamanouchi's very dark comedy, set in a cockeyed version of the antebellum South, a light-skinned woman poses as a white male slaver and tries to escape to Pennsylvania with her husband...Axel Alvin Jr. directs the premiere, which whooshes by in a taut 75 minutes and features exceptionally committed acting from a cast of five: Danie Steel, Martin K. Lewis, Sydney Cole Alexander, Hunter Canning and the remarkable Alex Herrald as a hard-drinking, fast-talking plantation owner.”
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New Yorker
February 8th, 2019

“The title of Ray Yamanouchi’s new play could refer to its subject, slavery, or to this country’s skill at wrestling entertainment out of unlikely topics—in this case, the tale of two nineteenth-century runaways trying to make their way north...Directed by Avin, Jr., the gleefully anachronistic show is admittedly a bit of a mess, but it also has a rambunctious punk-rock energy that’s all too rare on our increasingly sanitized stages.”
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Lighting & Sound America
January 31st, 2019

"Under the direction of Axel Avin, Jr., the action is fast and furious, the playwright making his points with hammer-like force. At times, some of his blows are self-inflicted, however...All five cast members deliver strongly defined performances...Comes out of the gate furiously, only to ultimately peter out, failing to deliver a satisfying ending; indeed, it simply grinds to a halt."
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TheaterScene.net
February 1st, 2019

"On another level, the play is a sort of sociopolitical farce, reminiscent of productions that The San Francisco Mime Troupe has been staging for decades, often on makeshift outdoor stages. And it's not just mistaken identities sparked by disguises that make 'The American Tradition' farcical. It's also the play's pace and energy. Yes, there are some longer, somewhat drawn-out soliloquies. But even when the play turns grim and violent and full of disturbing racial content."
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Theatre is Easy
February 18th, 2019

“A century-bending, darkly funny interrogation of America's racist past and present...Director Axel Avin, Jr. stages an unsettling, momentum-building production that follows, per Yamanouchi’s instructions in the script, the Brechtian technique of alienation...Yamanouchi’s invitation for white audiences to find the funny in what may well be a reflection of themselves paves the path for a gut-punch of an explosion...A fast-talking, passionate, messy work of art."
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Theater Pizzazz
January 30th, 2019

"Yamanouchi's inherently melodramatic play isn't intended to be taken literally. Slightly reminiscent of Branden Jacobs-Jenkin's far superior 'An Octoroon,' it's far less inventively produced, with thematic points that are neither new, revelatory, or especially convincing…Whatever the play's thoughts, they aren't particularly well conveyed through Yamanouchi's cartoonish characters, barely funny japeries, anachronistic language and props…and a torrent of four-letter words."
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Off Off Online
February 1st, 2019

"Yamanouchi doesn’t come up with much that’s fresh beyond his approach...Still, in a satire on subjects as volatile as racism, slavery and the Klan, it’s to the credit of director Axel Avin, Jr. that the production avoids the sledgehammer tastelessness of...Spike Lee’s 'Bamboozled' and brings out Yamanouchi’s sly humor...Avin’s actors handle the mash-up of periods with aplomb...Yamanouchi’s message...may be familiar, but the packaging and performances are just lively enough to put it over."
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Plays to See
January 31st, 2019

“‘The American Tradition’ appears at first glance to be a vivid glimpse into the past, but it immediately calls into question how much racial injustice really is history...At its most basic, the story is purely historical. But Yamanouchi smartly writes his 19th-century characters as parallels to 21st-century archetypes...Agree with its comparison of eras or not, ‘The American Tradition’ bears an emotional potency that sticks in the mind regardless.”
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