by Benedict Burgess
Christopher Demos-Brown is no ordinary playwright. Sure, he’s a co-founder and literary manager of a successful Miami theatre company, and author of various award-winning plays, including the Broadway hit American Son. But what really sets him apart are not his theatrical accolades, but his law career.
After spending two years as a Los Angeles actor, Demos-Brown transitioned into law, enrolling at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Upon graduating, he relocated to Miami, Florida, and began training as a prosecutor at the State Attorney’s office, where he met Stephanie, his future wife and partner in – metaphorical – theatrical crime. Together, the two co-founded Zoetic Stage, a new regional theatre currently in residence at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, Florida.
Despite the career change, Demos-Brown soon found a passion for play writing, with his legal training often informing his dramatic instincts.
“Trial law is inherently adversarial in the American legal system,” said Demos-Brown. “And good drama involves conflict.”
Reading legal transcriptions has also helped Demos-Brown develop an ear for speech patterns and combative dialogue. This legal dialectic approach allows him as a playwright to explore the complexity of his subjects without sacrificing their humanity.
Such skills came in handy when developing American Son, helping Demos-Brown simultaneously develop the conflict and his characters’ voices.
“I started having imaginary conversations in my head,” said Demos-Brown. “I would put people that I know with whom I vehemently disagree in the form of one character, and people with whom I agree in the form of another character.”
Of course, working two full-time jobs in two different professions is no small feat. But Demos-Brown’s dual passions are what allowed him to capture the ins and outs of a conflict as complex as American Son.
“Being a lawyer allows you to get involved with a lot of different problems and deal with people when they’re both at their best and at their worst, which is what I think you want to see onstage,” he shared.
Artists, audiences, and critics alike have no objections.
American Son plays in FST’s Gompertz Theatre starting January 22. For tickets and more information, click here.