Season Selects: The Brothers Size

Posted March 30, 2022

Apt2022 Web Heros Horiz Brothers 01

Choosing which plays to see in a season is always a tough decision. And we're here to help! This week, we'll take a look at Tarell Alvin McCraney's lyrical drama The Brothers Size, directed by APT Core Company Member Gavin Lawrence. 

The Brothers Size

By Tarell Alvin McCraney

Directed by Gavin Lawrence

Fast Facts:

Playing: Touchstone Theatre | June 28 - October 8
Featuring: Nathan Barlow, Rasell Holt
Genre: Contemporary Drama
Go If You Liked: The Island (2015), August Wilson’s Fences (2019)
Last at APT: Read during Winter Words play reading in 2019. First time fully staged!

About the Play

Prison walls extend far beyond prison gates, destroying families, infecting dreams and mocking what hope is left after time served. In the Louisiana Bayou, brothers by blood and by mythic circumstance struggle to find connection in the wake of incarceration. With a love that is abundant and complex; beautiful and dangerous, they navigate a road where those prison gates remain, always, in their rear view. They find themselves at a crossroads where fate, hope and desperation collide. Where their love for each other must redefine what it means to be free. Kinetic and musical and achingly poetic, with characters steeped in the Yoruba cosmology, The Brothers Size sings the ancient bond of brotherhood.

Tarell Alvin McCraney may currently be best known as the person who penned the 2017 Academy-Award winning feature Moonlight. The movie, which introduced a wider audience to McCraney’s lyrical writing style, was based on In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, a semi-autobiographical story about the playwright’s search for identity as a young man, which he wrote while attending the Yale School of Drama. McCraney’s current work is as the creator and executive producer of “David Makes Man,” a coming-of-age drama series on Oprah Winfrey’s network, OWN, which explores many of the topics in Moonlight, including poverty, violence and the complexities of family relationships. These same topics, as well as McCraney’s poetic voice, build the foundation of his 2007 play, The Brothers Size.

The Brothers Size is the second play his trilogy, “The Brother/Sister Plays,” which are connected through theme and location, as well as some recurring characters. The first play in the triptych, In the Red and Brown Water, introduces us to Ogun and Elegba, two of the three characters in The Brothers Size. And the final play, Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet continues Elegba’s story. A play at times tender and tough, The Brothers Size is steeped in Yoruba cosmology, utilizing poetry, music and dance to drive the story in a completely unique way, which had the New York Times calling it “…one of the main reasons we go to the theater, that beautiful music of a new voice.”

Artistic Director Brenda DeVita Says:

"APT was founded as a classical theater. And for years, we’ve been investigating just what that means. What makes a classic? And who decides? Many of the plays we do here are profoundly poetic and deeply human; stories that pull a thread on a relationship, or a family, or a person, and see what’s at the center after all of that thread unspools. The Brothers Size is a play that was first produced in the 2000s, yet it very much embodies those classical elements, and that deep dive into humanity. It’s set in Louisiana, and heavily influenced by the Yoruba cosmology of West Africa. And McCraney uses his exquisite, poetic style to carve out the relationship between these three men, and their love for one another, and their frustration with one another, and their hopes for the future, which include just holding onto their livelihoods and their freedom. It’s a gorgeous, powerful, heartbreaking play; it brought the house down when we read it during Winter Words in 2018. And the amazing Gavin Lawrence – actor, and playwright, and APT Core Company member, and the most thoughtful human I know – is making his directorial debut here with this play. Gavin was in this play himself in 2012, directed by one of his mentors, the great Marion McClinton. And he’s been thinking about this production for more than two years now, since it was first slated to be on stage in 2020. It’s going to be one of those plays you don’t want to miss.