Style on Stage LA

Stern’s Multi-Culti Look for All My Sons at the Matrix

by Rasi A on Aug 28, 2023

A Fresh Perspective on a Classic Play

The Matrix Theatre Company, led by Joseph Stern, is bringing a fresh twist to the 1947 American tragedy, "All My Sons" by Arthur Miller. This time, Stern's production features an ethnically diverse cast, reflecting the multicultural reality of modern-day Los Angeles. This idea isn't just for novelty; Stern believes that using an assorted cast can bring a new depth to a classic play.

Character Dynamics in a New Light

Joe Keller, the main protagonist, is portrayed by a black actor, Alex Morris, while his wife, Kate, played by Anne Gee Byrd, is white. Their son, Chris, reflects their union as a biracial character. Interestingly, Ann Deever and her brother George, usually Caucasian in traditional settings, are played by Asian actors this time. Neighboring families further add to the racial mix with the Baylisses being white and the Lubeys Latino.

Joseph Stern's Vision for the Matrix

Having founded the Matrix in 1977, Stern aimed for the highest standards in theater. He desired accurate representations in every play. However, a few years ago, Stern noticed a disconnect. He didn’t see enough people of color in audiences or the plays. Motivated by this, he launched a mission to bring multicultural audiences and actors into the spotlight. The results were commendable, leading to numerous awards for the Matrix Theatre.

Embracing Diversity in Theater

Stern's initiative isn’t just about diversity for its own sake. For "All My Sons", he knew the racial composition of every character before casting began. For example, he had a clear vision of Joe being black, wearing perhaps a tiered dress or a simple work shirt, and his son being biracial. Stern’s choices, especially casting Asian actors for roles closely tied to World War II, were both bold and strategic, aiming to challenge traditional norms.

The Director’s Touch

Director Cameron Watson, known for his works with American plays, embraced this challenge head-on. For many actors, especially the Asian American actresses, being considered for such iconic roles was an emotional experience. They weren't just wearing roles like outfits, but wearing them like personal statements, akin to a woman owning her tiered dress in a fashion show. Watson’s rehearsals were full of discovery and revelation, proving that diversity can breathe new life into well-known stories.

In conclusion, Stern’s multi-ethnic rendition of "All My Sons" at the Matrix is more than just a play. It’s a testament to how diversity can transform the way we perceive classic tales. With talented actors from varied backgrounds, the play promises to resonate with audiences in a unique and impactful way.