Already closed | 1h 25m | West Village

The American Tradition

From 26 member  reviews
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.  More…

Fictitious characters Eleanor—cross-dressing as a white planter—and her husband, Bill—pretending to be her loyal servant—attempt to escape to the free state of Pennsylvania. Their operation is running smoothly until they meet Walsh, a drunk planter and member of the Not All Slavers organization, who steals Bill at a rest stop. Armed with a Glock-19 and her fair skin, Eleanor sets out to rescue him by any means necessary.

Member Reviews (26)


Relevant, Ambitious, Great acting, Clever, Thought-provoking
Avg Score

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.

Also "The American Tradition" is a loud, fast, sometimes outrageous, delibe... Read more Read less

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.


See it if You are a liberal and want to root for what you believe in

Don't see it if you want to see something that is fair and balanced

Also Everything about this play is above average or better. But you may or ... Read more Read less

Disappointing, Great acting

See it if Period piece on slavery.

Don't see it if Theme of story not completely worked out.

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.

Also Imagine watching a dream sequence in which current day whites & Africa... Read more Read less

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.

Fascinating but flawed

See it if Fast paced, some humor, engaging story, some great dialogue and devices. Excellent performances.

Don't see it if I felt like I needed a tie in at the end to the brief opening scene. Kept expecting that to happen.

Relevant, Edgy, Ambitious, Humorous, Thought-provoking

See it if you want an intense story sprinkled with humor.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy contemporary language (including lots of cursing) used in an historical setting. You don't like actors playing multiple role

Ambitious, Absorbing, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You are interested in race matters & US history with a twist on gender. You enjoy works in progress - this is very good but needs tweaking

Don't see it if You want high production values - this is low cost - basic staging - performances hold audience attention.

Also The story is bookended by two modern scenes, the 1st is shocking & unn... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Banal, Cliched, Dated, Disappointing

See it if You like the author or know someone in the play

Don't see it if Your looking for anything original or particularly funny. Your critical of melodrama intermixed with slightly funny lines.

Also Overworked topic not very well done misses the mark. You get a valiant... Read more Read less

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.

Gets you thinking, who can you trust when you can trust no one

See it if Good acting See how to deal with fear when the world is your enemy

Don't see it if too much unnecessary profanity that does not add to the script some 20th Century cliches seem out of context

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.

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.

Also I really enjoyed this play. It's very simply staged with really good a... Read more Read less

Cliched, Banal, Good acting

See it if you enjoy shows that explore slavery and its affects on America and American history to present day. The cast makes a valiant effort.

Don't see it if you expect it to delve deeper than the fact that American history is intertwined with its shameful history of slavery.

Intense, Profound, Riveting, Thought-provoking

See it if you appreciate superb acting (Alex Herrald is a genius!) and you like the brutal truth and despise injustice. .

Don't see it if you really believe racism is not a big problem and the South fought only for state's rights on principle.

Also I had to see it twice just to marvel at Alex Herrald's onstage magic. ... Read more Read less

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.

Great acting, Funny, Ambitious, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you like theatrical, Brechtian storytelling...the play is anachronistic which works really well comparing past to today.

Don't see it if like traditional theater. Violence and disturbing language are also part of the story.

During previews
Intense, Quirky, Excruciating, Overrated, Insipid

See it if You are interested in a new take on the age-old slavery question.

Don't see it if You can’t deal with dialogue that is for a good portion of the play shouted at you and actors who overact and are not believable.

During previews
Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Resonant, Relevant

See it if You’re interested in experiencing what it felt like to be a slave in US 1800’s

Don't see it if You want a musical.

During previews
Clever, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if you want to experience ante-bellum America from the realistic perspective of runaway enslaved persons, brought forward to modern relevance.

Don't see it if you prefer comedies (this play has comic moments but the overall mood is dark), musicals, lavish sets and costumes, or no racial themes.

During previews
Ambitious, Disappointing, Funny, Relevant, Quirky

See it if you are interested in the history of slavery in America, you'd like to see a radical reinterpretation of same, you like post-modern theater

Don't see it if you like authenticity of speech and coherence of ideas

Also Judging by the final right-wing monologue followed by dead silence and... Read more Read less

During previews
Ambitious, Edgy, Intense, Clever

See it if you want to see an intense, fast-paced slave-escape adventure, seen through a modern lens. Historical gender-bending intrigues you.

Don't see it if anachronisms bother you, you want a bigger show, you are offended by so much arguing (there's a lot of it), you get confused easily.

Also I saw the first preview, so the cast had a manic energy (my companion ... Read more Read less

During previews
Relevant, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Clever, Great acting

See it if you like historical slavery story told in a Brechtian way. The change of the actors from one character to another is fast and good to watch.

Don't see it if you don't want to see a play about racism, or if you expect to see a traditional play/musical with big sets. It is a small theater.

During previews
Clever, Disappointing, Indulgent, Well-intentioned, Misguided

See it if You're interested in an irreverent take on American history.

Don't see it if You want incisive racial/political commentary, you love detailed period pieces, or you're uncomfortable with repeated use of racial slurs.

Also The American Tradition is a well-intentioned comedy about an unlikely ... Read more Read less

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 exceptionall...
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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 s...
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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 ultimat...
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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'...
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