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“Ain’t That America” For Resonance Felt Round the World

By Ernest Kearney  —  Ain’t That America offers a truly unique viewpoint on a segment of our country that has been legitimatized and emboldened since the last presidential election: the young alt-right conservatives of the South.  More committed to their ideologies, more proselytizing and more extreme in their actions; these are the youths who have been “hyper-racialized” by the likes of Richard Spencer, South Park and Alex Jones, which culminated in the election of Donald Trump.

Two young loners Pat (Dan Schultz) and Red (John Brahan) meet at their small town’s community college.  Red espouses the right wing, neo-conservative rhetoric that Rush

Writer, Performer John Brahan (HFF18)

Limbaugh broadcasts every day and—couching it in “ditto-head banter”—lures the more pliable Pat into his orbit.

But when Red despairs of the country ever seeing the truth and decides a deadly “wake-up call is needed,” Pat is faced with confronting his friend and himself.

This is a work that defies the common wisdom, which is common because it is wise.   But Brahan and Schultz offer themselves up as the proverbial “exceptions that tests the rules.”

The script is by Brahan and the piece is directed by Schultz.  Normally we could describe this mixture of double duties with Gary Larson’s apt term: “Trouble brewing”— but not here, not now.

Brahan and Schultz succeed in creating a superbly structured and intelligent work and simultaneously give two of the finest performances I’ve seen at this Fringe.

Director, Performer Dan Schultz (HFF18)

The two began working the piece while at The University of Mississippi, and the insights into the development of the radical soul are not the product of study but of that environment.

Brahan has never read Eric Hoffer’s 1951 classic The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, still his play reverberates with Hoffer’s findings:

“Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.”

“The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.”

“Every extreme attitude is a flight from the self.”

Brahan’s awareness of the characters he has penned has come naturally and that quality—a quality which most writers struggle and sweat to obtain—permeates the play with an effortlessness that is intense.

Brahan’s intense performance as the engaging and revolting Red is in the vicinity of spectacular.Platinum Medal

Perhaps it might seem that Schultz’s performance, though excellent, may have suffered from the demands of the two hats he donned here, but if that is the case, while there was toil on his role, there was none on the production, which was directed with a sure and steady hand.

For the work of both Brahan and Schultz, a PLATINUM MEDAL.

 

 

♦      ♦      ♦

 

Ain’t That America

 

Played the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2018

 

For Show Information Go To:

http://hff18.org/5155

 

Be sure to check theTVolution.com and the Hollywood Fringe Site for a list of Fringe 2018 Award Winners, Closing Events and any Show Extensions.

 


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Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. After a wild and misspent youth, which lasted well into middle age, Kearney has settled down and is focusing on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. Ernest’s stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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