Bobby Moreno; photo courtesy Studio Theatre; video production Studiio Box Creative.

There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.

Tender Age

As the Trump administration’s detention of migrant children soared to horrendous heights in the summer of 2019, George Brants Tender Age was being workshopped at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference. Directed by Brant’s longtime collaborator Henry Godinez, the one-man play takes the audience inside a children’s detention center on the Texas border, as Martín, searching for a steady paycheck, becomes a guard there. Inspired by the administration’s extreme family separation policies and named after U.S. detainee shelters constructed for children under the age of 12, Tender Age provides a timely, stark, and unflinching look at America’s immigration policies. “I was drawn to the play by its subject matter, the detainment of undocumented children at the U.S.-Mexico border,” says Godinez via email, adding that, on a personal level, he was also “drawn to the play by the way it references the schism in the Latino community when it comes to this issue.” As a first-generation American with Mexican parents, and the father of young children, Martin, played by Bobby Moreno, grapples with the ethics of his job and the role of his place of employment. In 2019, the National Playwrights Conference’s artistic director told the Washington Post “What George wrote needs to be out there.” Godinez agrees, crediting the play’s lyricism, structure, and “powerful emotional impact.” Says Godinez, “It’s quite remarkable the way George has enabled one character/actor to tell a story with so many characters and locations so vividly and so simply.” Two years and one pandemic later, Tender Age will close out Studio Theatre’s all-digital 2021-2022 season. Premiering days after Vice President Kamala Harris’ first visit as VP to the Texas border, it seems the passage of time, and COVID-19, has only made the play, which also deals with a pandemic, more relevant. The play premieres July 2 and streams through July 25. Tickets are available at studiotheatre.org. $37–$65.