The "topsy-turvy journey through the war-ravaged American psyche" is being presented by Journeymen Theater Ensemble (JTE) at the Church Street Theater. Opening is Oct. 24.
According to JTE notes, the play "explores the human cost to two Michigan families — the Peninis and the Ahmids — when the world of 'waterboarding' and 'extraordinary rendition' arrives, quite literally, on their doorsteps. The play personalizes the government's battle against terrorism, a struggle that often seems remote and shrouded in secrecy. As American As reveals an alternate America where the 'black sites' we read about (in which suspected terrorists are interrogated in faraway lands) are instead located on familiar cul-de-sacs, in our own homes."
Helen Hayes-nominated director Shirley Serotsky stages the play by Prestininzi, associate chair of playwriting at the Yale School of Drama.
JTE's founding artistic director is Deborah Kirby. This is the company's first world premiere, marking the start of its fifth anniversary season.
"This is an important election where the war is very much at the center of the debate," Kirby stated. "I think this play will be a great stepping stone for us to establish ourselves as a theatre company willing to take big artistic risks and hopefully open us up to other bold new works from exciting playwrights." Kirby, who previously appeared in JTE's Colorado Catechism and Spinning Into Butter, takes on the role of Harriet Penini, the embattled mother at the center of the drama. The rest of the cast consists of Journeymen newcomers Gerald Browning (as her husband, Jim), Colin Smith and Danny Gavigan (as two comically menacing agents — both named Frank — of an unnamed government bureaucracy), Zehra Fazal (as Alicia Ahmid) and Maboud Ebrahimzadeh (as Pascal Ahmid).
Largely unknown to Washington audiences, Prestininzi recently had his original works Beholder and Amerikafka produced to critical acclaim at Chicago's experimental Trapdoor Theatre. He and JTE's Kirby met at the Shenandoah International Playwrights Retreat in 2001, and he submitted the script of As American As to her in 2006, with a desire to see it produced in Washington. The play was workshopped at two theatres outside of DC before it was ready to open JTE's fifth season this year.
Church Street Theater is at 1742 Church Street, NW, in Washington, DC (Dupont Circle Metro). For ticket and show information, call (202) 669-7229, (800) 494-TIXS or visit www.journeymentheater.org.
Journeymen Theater Ensemble is "dedicated to providing a nurturing environment for theater professionals to create art that addresses social and moral issues that challenge and inspire its artists and audiences."