The Armory

Redwood

Ancestry.com gone wrong.
A story with dancing, DNA, and dark truths.

October 26 – November 17, 2019

On the U.S. Bank Main Stage

A World Premiere!

A BEAUTIFUL, HUMOR-FILLED EXCAVATION OF OUR SHARED HISTORY.

When a hip hop lovin' uncle obsessed with Ancestry.com starts digging into the past, an interracial couple finds that they have a lot more (and a lot less) in common than they thought. Filled with comedy, wit, and dance, this singular American story is about learning to live and love in a present that's overpopulated with ghosts.

Redwood

By Brittany K. Allen
Directed by Chip Miller

Photos

Redwood Photos & Artwork
Tap Image for More

Redwood Plot Synopsis

Compiled by Benjamin Fainstein, Literary Manager

Please note, this synopsis contains spoilers.

Baltimore, 2019. As a hip-hop dance class bumps and grooves away in the background, Stevie Durbin composes an email to his entire extended family. Stevie wants to let everyone know that he’s begun a genealogical odyssey on behalf of the whole clan: since their ancestry is rooted in American slavery, their roots are hard to trace but Stevie feels it is well worth the effort. And his initial research has uncovered the fact that there is a descendant of the Tatum family, who owned members of the Durbin family as slaves, alive and well and living in Baltimore today.

Stevie convinces the young Tatum, Drew, to meet for coffee to discuss their shared lineage. Drew is crushed by the revelation that he is descended from slave-owners. Things get even more complicated when they discover that Drew is the partner of Stevie’s niece, Meg Durbin; in fact, Meg and Drew have recently taken their relationship to a new level by moving in together. Realizing that it was his girlfriend’s family who were enslaved by his own, Drew leaves the café in an emotional hurry and doesn’t plan further contact with Stevie. The news causes a rift between Drew and Meg, who have a difficult conversation about the legacy of slavery and the ongoing oppression from the systemic racism that plagues Black Americans. 

Meg and her mom Beverly have a close bond and laugh in shared confusion about Stevie’s fascination with online genealogy, while discovering that they have different opinions about making sense of their identities as American women of color.

The intensity of Stevie’s research frustrates his extended family members and, as they cut off contact, he tries to find community in a variety of dance and yoga classes. But he’s so out of place that he ends up even more alone. As Meg and Drew try to find a path forward, and as Stevie becomes in need of human connection, Beverly becomes the go-to person for keeping her family’s heads above water. Eventually, through a series of difficult but hilariously familiar family conversations, things start to get better, even after Beverly finally reveals that her marriage has fallen apart and she’s facing isolation and sadness of her own.

Drew confronts his father about their ancestry and it leads nowhere, but he attempts to face his awful family history and its impact on his present relationship. He and Meg reconcile, and in the end, they join Beverly and Stevie for a family night out. It seems they all know how difficult it will be to contextualize and overcome their shared history, but they will do the best they can to love and honor each other—as Americans, as human beings, and as a family who stays and laughs together. As the present-day characters set their eyes on the future, the ghosts of the Durbin ancestors take the stage and address the audience to ensure their own stories are neither whitewashed nor erased.

Pre-Show Conversation for Redwood with Genealogical Forum of Oregon

Sat, Oct 26, 6:30 p.m.  •  FREE*

Join us for a pre-show conversation with the Genealogical Forum of Oregon inspired by our production of Redwood.

Learn More

Happy Hour with Urban League of Portland and Cascade Aids Project

Sun, Oct 27, 6:30 p.m.  •  FREE

Please join us for a pre-show Happy Hour with ULPDX (Urban League of Portland) and CAP (Cascade Aids Project) featuring a conversation with Redwood playwright Brittany K. Allen and Redwood director, Chip Miller.

Learn More

Perspectives Series for Redwood

Sun, Nov 3, 3:30 p.m.  •  FREE

Please join us for a post-show talk back for Redwood with moderator Ruby Joy White, Director of the Multicultural Resource Center at Reed College, and T. Aisha Edwards, LMHC, somatic trauma therapist and writer based in Vancouver, Washington.

Learn More

November First Thursday with DJ Anjali and The Incredible Kid

Thu, Nov 7, 5 p.m.  •  FREE

Celebrate November First Thursday as we throw a dance party with Portland-based DJ Anjali and The Incredible Kid in our Main Lobby.

Learn More

Pre-show Music featuring Jermaine

Fri, Nov 8, 6:30 p.m.  •  FREE

Join us for an intimate pre-show music performance with Portland-based, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Jermaine.

Learn More
Redwood Cast And Creative Team Banner 1200

Redwood

By Brittany K. Allen
Directed by Chip Miller

Brittany K. Allen*Meg Durbin
Orion Bradshaw*Tatum
Nick Ferrucci*Drew Tatum
Charles GrantInstructor
Tyrone Mitchell Henderson*Stevie (Steve) Wilson
Jennifer Lanier*Mom (Beverly Durbin)
Ashley MellingerHarriet/Hattie
Andrea Vernae*Allie/Alameda

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Darrell Grand MoultrieChoreographer
Brittany VastaScenic Designer
Alison HeryerCostume Designer
Jeanette Oi-Suk YewLighting Designer
Phil JohnsonSound Designer
Jamie Lynne Simons*Stage Manager
Dana PetersenProduction Assistant

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Chip Miller on Redwood

Director Chip Miller on Brittany K. Allen's new play Redwood (video by Kate Szrom).

"On the page it's one of the funniest scripts I've ever read, and also so smart and incisive  in the way that it talks about these huge issues."  -Redwood director Chip Miller. 

Get the inside scoop on Redwood, which makes its world premiere at The Armory beginning October 26.

Show Sponsors

Season Superstars

Season Supporting Sponsors