As the debate over marriage equality intensifies, there has been no shortage of political figures eager to portray themselves as "faith-based" protectors of "traditional values." Mustering the righteous rhetoric of the morally aggrieved, these self-styled defenders of decency claim the spiritual authority to define marriage around their supposedly sacrosanct virtues, ignoring that a similar mindset once labeled interracial couples a violation of divine law. Such prejudice provides the backdrop for playwright Carlyle Brown's latest work, American Family. A world-premiere commission for Park Square Theatre, the piece follows Mary Ellen Collins, a young white woman attempting to reconnect with the family she was removed from as a child. Mary Ellen's mother had allegedly demonstrated a debased morality by marrying a black man, an action that justified removing the child from her mother's no-doubt harmful influence. After establishing a relationship with a previously unknown half-brother, however, Mary Ellen is compelled to reconsider the definition of family. Brown is a vital voice in exploring oft-overlooked African-American contributions to U.S. history, and this newest work represents an ambitiously expanded narrative, utilizing a multicultural lens to view a core humanity that defies narrow-minded bigotry. Led by a stalwart cast (including Brown himself), American Family argues that emotional bonds possess a far greater strength than even the most fervently ordained forces of prejudice. In preview through March 22.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Tue., March 20, 7:30 p.m.; Wed., March 21, 7:30 p.m.; Wed., April 4, 7:30 p.m. Starts: March 16. Continues through April 7, 2012