Timely new play from Studio Theatre to confront U.S. immigration crisis

George Brandt's 'Tender Age' looks back to Trump-era policies to ask how much has truly changed.

Studio Theatre concludes its 2021–2022 all-digital season with Tender Age, a new play by George Bran that confronts the U.S. immigration crisis and looks back to Trump-era policies to ask how much has truly changed. Directed by collaborator Henry Godinez and starring Bobby Moreno, Tender Age begins streaming July 2, 2021.

In the play, Martín has recently started working as a guard at a Walmart–turned–detention center on the Texas border. First he learns he’s working at a tender age facility—keeping watch over children, some as young as his own, who have been separated from their families. Then, as a pandemic sweeps through the facility, Martín faces his own assumptions about his citizen status as a first-generation American with Mexican parents—and must decide what to do about his growing ethical unease about his work.

Bobby Moreno appearing in ‘Tender Age.’

Set during the Trump Administration’s Family Separation policies, Tender Age arrives at Studio as the Biden Administration presides over an unprecedented influx of arrivals at the U.S.–Mexico border. Tender Age was workshopped at the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in 2019.

Studio last presented George Brant’s work in the 2013–2014 season with Grounded, a finely wrought dramatic work that DC Metro Theater Arts reviewer John Stoltenberg called “stunning in every detail.”

ABOUT TENDER AGE

When Martín applies for a position at the local Walmart–turned–detention center, he is dismayed to discover he’ll be working as a security guard for a warehouse full of children, some as young as his own, separated from their families at the nearby Texan border.  The steady paycheck, however, outweighs Martín’s misgivings—until a strange epidemic grips the facility, and Martín faces a moral reckoning. Stark and propulsive, Tender Age joins Brant’s Grounded as a play about living at the edge of your ethics.

Tender Age streams on demand at studiotheatre.org July 2–25, 2021. Single tickets ($37 plus service fees) are available online or by calling 202.332.3300.

ABOUT GEORGE BRANT

George Brant’s plays include Grounded, Marie and Rosetta, Into the Breeches!, The Prince of Providence, Tender Age, Elephant’s Graveyard, and The Mourners’ Bench. His scripts have been translated into 15 languages and performed in 22 countries by such companies as The Public Theater, Atlantic Theater Company, Cleveland Play House, Trinity Rep, Studio Theatre, Milwaukee Rep, London’s Gate Theatre, Page 73, and Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre, among others.

Brant has received a Lucille Lortel Award, an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, the Smith Prize, a Scotsman Fringe First Award, an Off West End Theatre Award, a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere, three Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards, and the Keene Prize for Literature.

Brant has been commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, Trinity Rep, Dobama Theatre, and Cleveland Play House, and awarded fellowships from the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, the MacDowell, McCarter Theatre Center, The New Harmony Project, the Blue Mountain Center, the Hermitage Artist Retreat, and the Michener Center for Writers.

Brant is published by Samuel French, Oberon Books, and Smith & Kraus. He is currently working on a stage adaptation of the novel Crooked River Burning, a musical version of The Land of Oz, and an adaptation of Grounded for the Metropolitan Opera with music by Jeanine Tesori.

ABOUT HENRY GODINEZ

Henry Godinez is the Resident Artistic Associate at the Goodman Theatre. At the Goodman, he’s directed Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak On It! by Cheryl West; Feathers and Teeth by Charise Castro Smith; The Sins of Sor Juana and Mariela in the Desert by Karen Zacarías; Millennium Mambo by Regina Taylor; Electricidad and Straight as a Line by Luis Alfaro; The Cook by Eduardo Machado; Zoot Suit by Luis Valdez; the Goodman/Teatro Vista co-production of José Rivera’s Cloud Tectonics; and the 1996–2001 productions of A Christmas Carol. He also served as director of the Goodman’s Latino Theater Festivals. His other directing work includes the world premiere of Boleros for the Disenchanted by José Rivera at Yale Rep (and a subsequent production at the Goodman) and the world premiere of Urban Zulu Mambo by Regina Taylor at Signature (New York), as well as productions at Indiana Repertory Theatre, Dallas Theater Center, Portland Center Stage, Children’s Theatre Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Victory Gardens Theater, Court Theatre, and Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Co-founder and former Artistic Director of Teatro Vista, Godinez is the recipient of the 1999 Theatre Communications Group Alan Schneider Director Award, the Distinguished Service Award from the Lawyers for the Creative Arts, and was honored as the 2008 Latino Professional of the Year by the Chicago Latino Network. Born in Havana, Cuba, Godinez is a professor at Northwestern University and serves on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

ABOUT THE CAST

Bobby Moreno (Martín) most recently starred in 72 Miles to Go at Roundabout Theatre Company. His other theater credits include Mankind and Grand Concourse at Playwrights Horizons, Fulfillment Center at Manhattan Theatre Club, Lazarus at New York Theatre Workshop, Alligator at New Georges, Year of the Rooster (Drama Desk Award Nomination) and Hand to God at Ensemble Studio Theatre, and Invasion! at Play Company. His film and television credits include DishHow He Fell in Love, Netflix’s Living with Yourself, HBO’s High Maintenance, National Geographic’s The Hot Zone, CBS’s Bull and Elementary, and Showtime’s Homeland.

ABOUT THE CREATIVE TEAM

Wes Culwell (Director of Video) is an award-winning producer and director. He founded Studiio Box Creative in 2012 and has been committed to creating visibility around social justice issues as well as establishing Studiio Box as a premier creative agency in the greater Washington, DC area. Wes has spent more than 20 years in production, including nine years producing for networks such as NBC, Bravo, Oxygen, VH1, TLC, and National Geographic. During this challenging year for the arts, Wes has focused his energies on assisting theatrical companies to bring their visions to the digital screen. He received a BA in Drama from the University of California, Irvine and an MFA in Cinema from San Francisco State University. studiioboxdc.com.

Alberto Segarra’s (Lighting Designer) selected Washington, DC credits include The Snowy Day at Adventure Theatre MTC; BOY at Keegan Theatre; Earthrise at The Kennedy Center; Blood at the Root at Theater Alliance (Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lighting Design); The Agitators, Vicuña & the American Epilogue, and Satchmo at the Waldorf at Mosaic Theater; and An Act of God at Signature Theatre. Other credits include 1776 and The Gift Horse at New Repertory Theatre and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert at BlueBarn Theatre. Alberto received his MFA in Lighting Design from the University of Maryland, College Park, and he is a USA 829 member. Upcoming projects include Quixote Nuevo at Round House Theatre, The Thanksgiving Play at Olney Theatre Center, and Acoustic Rooster at The Kennedy Center. albertosegarra.com.

Victoria Deiorio (Sound Designer) is returning to Studio after designing Doubt: A Parable in 2019. Victoria has composed music and designed Off Broadway shows for The Sheen Center, Theatre at St. Clements, Pearl Theatre Company, Joe’s Pub, The Duke on 42nd Street, The Actors Center, Primary Stagesand Ensemble Studio Theatre. Regionally, she has worked at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, Signature Theatre, Seattle Rep, Baltimore Center Stage, and many more. She has composed and designed the following films: Thump, The Interview, Use Me Up, and One Sunday Afternoon. Victoria is the first woman to have been nominated for 14 Joseph Jefferson Awards—winning seven—for both composition and design. She has also been nominated for two After Dark Awards and a Syracuse Area Live Theater Award. She helped form the Theatrical Sound Designers and Composers Association, serving as Co-Chair of the Executive Board. She is Chair of the Design and Technology Department and Head of Sound Design at DePaul University. victoria-sound-design.com.

Jacqueline Guillen (Cultural Consultant) is a bilingual Mexican actress, born and raised in border towns Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico and Brownsville, Texas. As an actor, Jacqui’s Off Broadway credits include 72 Miles to Go at Roundabout Theatre Company and Then They Forgot About the Rest at INTAR Theatre. Her TV credits include Bull, Blue Bloods, Orange is the New Black, and Search Party. She was a finalist for the 2020 Nosotros Ya Tu Sabes Monologue Slam presented by NBC. She currently resides in New York with her fiancé and her dog, Ramona Flowers. On Instagram @Jacquie.guillen. jacqueline-guillen.com.

Adrien-Alice Hansel (Dramaturg) is the Literary Director at Studio, where she has dramaturged the world premieres of I Hate it HereQueen of Basel, The Remains, No Sisters, I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart, Animal, Red Speedo, Dirt, Lungs, and The History of Kisses as well as productions of Flow2.5 Minute Ride, Until the FloodCry It Out, Translations, Curve of Departure, The Effect, Wig Out!, Straight White Men, Cloud 9, Hedda Gabler, Jumpers for Goalposts, Bad Jews (twice), The Apple Family Plays, Invisible Man, Sucker Punch, The Golden Dragon, and The New Electric Ballroom, among others. Prior to joining Studio, she spent eight seasons at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, where she headed the literary department and coordinated project scouting, selection, and development for the Humana Festival of New American Plays. She is the co-editor of eight anthologies of plays from Actors Theatre and editor of 10 editions of plays through Studio. Adrien-Alice holds an MFA from the Yale School of Drama.

Allie Roy (Production Stage Manager) returns after stage managing Studio’s first audio play, Kings, and streaming productions of Cock, 2.5 Minute Ride, and Flow this season. Her other Studio credits include Admissions, If I ForgetTranslationsCurve of Departure, Straight White MenMurder BalladSilence! The Musical, and the world premiere of Animal for the Women’s Voices Theater Festival. Regional credits include West Side Story in concert with the National Symphony Orchestra and Love, Factually at The Kennedy Center; the world premieres of Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing and Diner, as well as A Chorus LineGrand HotelThe Scottsboro BoysWest Side Story, and Elmer Gantry at Signature Theatre; the world premiere of After the War, as well as When January Feels Like Summer and Ulysses on Bottles at Mosaic Theater Company; and The Originalist at Arena Stage.

Annabel Heacock (Assistant Director) is a director, writer, performer, deviser, and recent Northwestern University graduate with degrees in Theatre and Sociology. She assistant directed Studio’s 2021 productions of Cock and 2.5 Minute Ride. Select Northwestern directing credits include an immersive production of The VisitThe Donkey ShowCarrie the Musical, and Crisis Resolution in the Middle East for the annual Agnes Nixon Playwriting Festival. Assistant directing credits include The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls and Twelfth Night. While at Northwestern, Annabel served as the Artistic Director of WAVE Productions, a self-supporting, not-for-profit student theater company. She also coordinated the annual Director’s Festival, helping young artists develop their craft and direct a fully produced one-act play.

Lücién Reubens (Production Assistant) is a queer actor, technician, activist, art maker, and creator. They served as the production assistant on Studio’s 2021 productions of Cock, Until the Flood, 2.5 Minute Ride and Flow. They have worked on lights for Doubt and Pipeline at Studio and The Bodyguard at Toby’s Dinner Theatre, and worked in sound for A Sign of Rain at Studio, Disney’s Newsies at Arena Stage, and Arbat’s Bremenskie Muzikanty at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre. They began working in professional theater at Olney Theatre Center, assisting with lighting for the regional premieres of Elf the MusicalOnceMatilda, and Tiger Style!, as well as the North American premieres of Labour of LoveOil, and Mary Stuart. Lücién graduated with a BFA in Theater from Colgate University. On Instagram and Twitter at @livinpoetry.

ABOUT STUDIO THEATRE
Studio Theatre is Washington’s premier venue for contemporary theatre, “where local audiences will find today’s edgiest playwrights” (Variety). One of the most respected midsized theaters in the country, Studio produces exceptional contemporary drama in deliberately intimate spaces. Drawing inspiration from great ensembles—where people work together with a spirit of generosity and professional rigor—Studio brings characteristic thoughtfulness and daring to its work onstage and off, through its new work incubator and engagement, education, and workforce training initiatives. Studio serves nearly 75,000 people each year, including more than 1,000 youth and young adults through community engagement initiatives. Founded in 1978, the quality of Studio’s work has been recognized by sustained community support, as well as 72 Helen Hayes Awards for excellence in professional theater.

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