Freshman class goes to see play “All American Boys”

Theater experience highlights importance of talking about race


Alicia Mainjeni

Freshmen from Park gather in Capri Theater to see a play about police brutality May 19. ‘All American Boys’ ran April 29 – May 22.

Ivan Zank

Freshmen had an opportunity to see “All American Boys,” May 19, a play written by Brendan Kiely. The play was produced at Stages Theater Company and starred freshman Miles Johnson. 

Freshman Civics teacher, Emma Engebretson, who orchestrated the event, said she believes it’s important to show her students this play because of how it deals with race and police brutality. 

“I’m hoping that we all take away something from this play and learn something and gain more perspective on police brutality and its impact,” Engebretson said. 

Freshman Jordan Greene said that schools should prioritize teaching about race. 

“It’s important to talk about race because we’re different but we’re the same, so it’s good to learn about,” Greene said. 

The reason the freshman class went to see this production was because freshman Miles Johnson was the lead. Johnson played Rashad Butler, a 16-year-old boy who was beaten up by a police officer after being accused of stealing a bag of chips. Johnson said playing the lead was intense, but the production was very helpful and made sure everyone was okay. 

“It was a challenging role because I usually play a lot of comedy roles, so it definitely took a toll on me mentally because a lot of people go through what the play shows,” Johnson said. “But there were therapists on the set of the show which helped a lot.”

Engebretson said she wanted to see this play because of the focus on high school students.

“It focuses on high school students — one white, one Black and how police brutality has impacted their lives and their high school,” Engebretson said.  

Johnson said the play was really important for freshmen to see. Not only does it educate and put into perspective what police brutality does, but it exposes young minds to the reality of police brutality Johnson said. 

“It’s definitely important to start a conversation because a lot of people don’t know what’s happening in the world,” Johnson said. “But when you educate people on these topics they can stand up for things that are wrong and educate themselves so change happens faster.”

According to Johnson, the play ended after a protest scene where the characters listed names of Black men and women who were victims of police brutality. Johnson said he enjoyed the ending of the play.

“I loved how the play ended. It was so powerful and heartbreaking, it was such a great experience,” Johnson Said. “Not having the ending is so powerful because it tells the audience that you have the power to make the ending and do something about police brutality.”