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Man Down (Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018)

Man Down (Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018)

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Play Synopsis

It’s April 2015 and the Baltimore Riots have only just begun. As the city fights to end police brutality, interracial couple Michael and Eva struggle to hold on to each other. Tensions mount over colonial attitudes, Freddie Gray’s controversial death, and the beginnings of a monumental racial justice movement that sweeps the country. A new original play, Man Down, is a tender, sometimes uncomfortable, examination of love in the light of racial violence.

Run Time: 60 minutes

New Writing,  Play, Drama, Political, Social Justice, Romance

The Process

The Concept

A millennial love story in a divided America 

It’s 2015 and the United States is rife with violent arrests of young black men. Peaceful protests against the violent arrest and death of Freddie Gray, an unarmed black man turn into an all out riot overnight. The Baltimore Riots of 2015 were a breaking point for police brutality in the U.S. Man Down by Hannah Trujillo is an original play that examines racial violence through the lens of a romantic relationship.

Eva Ramirez and Michael Sterling’s unyielding love holds them together as a surge in police brutality against young black men ripples through the United States. Eva’s devotion to Michael is challenged when her estranged brother Eddie reappears asking to reconnect. Seemingly thuggish Freddie also reveals himself and complicates things for Michael and  Eva. 

Can their love survive the strife?

Hannah Trujillo, Playwright and Director

Hannah Trujillo is an American playwright, actor, and activist of Latinx descent. She is a Semi-Finalist for the Latino Theatre Alliance/ Los Angeles Nest Playwriting Fellowship 2018-19. She received her BFA from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Her work is focused on creating inclusive narratives that feature diverse characters and conflicts.

      Previous credits include Merry Wives of Windsor at The Old Globe, The Words of Others (Palabras Ajenas) at REDCAT, Jackie and The Seagull at CalArts, Durango66 with Teatro Linea de Sombra. 

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The Writing 

It took three years of research, and long talks with Baltimore natives to start writing this piece. The story came as a crumbling romance. I was very moved by the idea of people as flawed structures. Each character is their own fully fleshed, flawed fighter. Each character believes they are right. I think that reflects recent American politics. Neither party seems able to have a real conversation about what is systematically wrong with police brutality, gun control, education, etc. 

It started with a loosely outlined collection of scenes and had a group of actors come and read them. We then workshopped for a year with two casts. Each workshop session incorporated a long improvisation process. Most of the words in the show are based off of those improvisation sessions.

Every few weeks I had a new draft of the script. We have a 105 page version, and a 52 page version, and about 10 more in between. What is being shown in Edinburgh is one iteration.

This story would not be told without the flexibility and courage from those actors.

The Music 

It was during our second workshop production that the piece felt like it needed it's own soundtrack. We wanted to honor the blues, jazz, and neo-soul styles that have emerged from the African-American diaspora. Our composer Ian Stahl created several original compositions to accompany the piece. The music, with the found footage from the actual Riots creates a very important cinematic feeling to the work. Because so much of the Baltimore Riots was broadcast by national news stations, and made to look more violent than it truly was, we felt we needed to reconstruct the way we looked at the footage and the text. The music is our way of doing this.

Edinburgh Cast

Terrence Wayne Jr. as Michael/ Freddie

Terry Wayne Jr is an artist originally from Houston Texas who is now living in LA, training for his M.F.A. at the California Institute of the Arts. He has been in the theater since 4th grade. He has performed in such productions as Aladdin, The Diary of Anne Frank, A Raisin in the Sun, Godspell, Little Women and many more. Terry hopes to  study performance & to accumulate as much knowledge and experience to fulfill his life purpose of serving the people of the world through the God-Given talents he has been blessed with.

Camila Ascencio as Eva Ramirez

Camila is a singer, actor and producer born and raised in San Francisco. She studied at Stella Adler Studio (New York) and received her BFA at CalArts. She has worked with companies including Golden Thread, New Conservatory Theater, ACT and The Marsh in San Francisco. She speaks four languages and enjoys playing guitar, dancing, ranting about social justice issues and being a huge nerd. She would like to thank her family for their constant love and encouragement. 

Samuel Garnett as Eddie Ramirez

Samuel Garnett is an actor, writer, filmmaker born in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is currently studying Acting at the California Institute of the Arts. Through his work he aims to deepen his understanding of self and the volatility of this world. His performance in Man Down is his international debut and he couldn’t be happier to be making it at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

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Hannah Trujillo, Writer & Director

Diane Park, Stage Manager

Rashi Jain Scenic Design

Katie Flores, Sound Design

Yuanyuan Liang, Costume Design 

Rose Malone, Lighting Design

Lauren A. Baker, Assistant Director

Ian Stahl, Composer

Malik Allen Drawhorn Pauldon, Producer

Max Weinstein, Production Manager