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Austin Peay Theatre and Dance presents a play that explores themes of race and bias

American Son

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn.-- The Austin Peay State University Theatre and Dance Department and the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts at Austin Peay is proud to present, American Son, Feb. 23-25, at 7:30 p.m., with matinee performances on Feb. 25-26, at 2 p.m. in the Margaret Fort Trahern Laboratory Theatre at Austin Peay. 

This contemporary play, directed by Dr. Ayo Walker, and cast by Austin Peay Theatre and Dance students Jade Curry, Noah Puckett, Jackson Bryan, Nicholas Sperandeo and Jaylan Downes, explores themes of race and bias in a tense 90-minute show. Presented in an intimate black box space, this show will bring the audience face-to-face with the characters and their stories.  

An estranged bi-racial couple must confront their feelings about race and bias after their son is detained by the local police following a traffic stop incident. Their disparate histories and backgrounds inform their assumptions as they try to find out what happened to their son. 

Tickets can be purchased online now or in-person one hour before the show at the Trahern Theatre Box Office. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for students, military and senior citizens. 

About the Director 
Dr. Ayo Walker is a Performance Studies Practitioner, Choreographer, and Dance and African American Studies Educator. Currently an Assistant Professor of Dance at Austin Peay State University, she positions her work in the field of Dance and Performance Studies within three specific interdisciplinary and generative frameworks: Research-to-Performance; Practice-Based; and Practice-Led. 

As an anti-racist educator utilizing culturally relevant and critical dance pedagogies, her praxis is committed to substantiating the techniques, vernaculars, and genealogies and embodiment of historically marginalized and othered dance aesthetics in higher education dance spaces. Her general choreographic practice is rooted in visibilizing the “blood memories,” “aesthetic of the cool,” and the “get down” qualities evident in Africanist and Black dance aesthetics. These qualities represent the nature of the practice and how dancers of all backgrounds engaging with the practice and performance of these aesthetics, generates new knowledge contributing to the operational significance for this practice. All of which drives her duty as a complete artist/scholar to reflect the times viscerally and candidly, connecting the past with the present via staged representations of history on a loop. 

Employing social justice choreography representative of anti-essentialist movement that is at once exposing and undoing stereotypical assumptions historically signifying the Black body politic, her works challenge what performing Blackness is and isn’t. Performed by her project-based/pick up dance company, Ayo & Company, her works have been commissioned by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, PUSHfest, National Dance Education Organization (NDEO), Sacramento/Black Art of Dance (S/BAD), and Rhythmically Speaking and the Modern American Dance Company (MADCO). 

Ayo & Company recently premiered her latest work “Jadine’s Son” at both the 2022 We Create Festival BIPOC Legacy in the Arts and the BIG MUDDY Dance Festival. 
For more information on the play, American Son, follow Austin Peay Theatre and Dance on Facebook and Instagram. For questions, contact Dr. Walker, Professor of Dance at (931) 221-6374 or walkeral@apsu.edu. 

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