The American Tradition
Closed 1h 25m
The American Tradition

The American Tradition NYC Reviews and Tickets

(26 Ratings)
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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Show-Score Member Reviews (26)

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54 Reviews | 8 Followers
Great acting, Relevant, Intense, Ambitious, Funny

See it if you like Brechtian theater...focuses on actors connecting to audience and breaking 4th wall, highlighting/connecting past to present day.

Don't see it if you prefer lavish productions with happy endings. This one forces you to think about race in America.

73 Reviews | 21 Followers
Great writing, Edgy, Intense, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if You are ready to take a critical look at American history, like sharp political critique and fast paced storytelling

Don't see it if You wear a MAGA hat, are uncomfortable hearing the "N-word", dislike seeing guns/blanks being shot.

683 Reviews | 161 Followers
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

254 Reviews | 138 Followers
Entertaining, Great staging, Intelligent, Relevant, Resonant

See it if A talented group of actors skillfully navigate numerous characters through slavery issues

Don't see it if Some anachronistic touches and cruelty offend you.

1122 Reviews | 324 Followers
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.

79 Reviews | 10 Followers
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Ambitious

See it if you like seeing historical plays with a modern twist.

Don't see it if you go to theater to escape racial/political things, don't like anachronism used in the service of storytelling. Read more

168 Reviews | 38 Followers
Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great staging, Entertaining, Great acting

See it if you want a taste of the roots of racism in this country. The play has creative staging, strong acting and is even funny at times.

Don't see it if This play addresses slavery and racism from several points of view. It's raw, blunt and disturbing, but very well done.

370 Reviews | 81 Followers
Ambitious, Funny, Quirky, Intense

See it if U like political theatre; you'd like a play with a fairly original plot.

Don't see it if U're expecting a historical drama.The plot involves an attempted slave escape, but the slaves have modern attitudes, attitudes & gestures. Read more

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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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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