SAVING CAIN Premieres At The Hollywood Fringe Festival In June
As a liberal growing up in a politically divided family in a conservative suburb in the heart of Texas, playwright Aaron Kozak has witnessed firsthand the breadth of the political, spiritual and cultural divide in the United States and how that divide can grow or shrink when it comes to issues that affect everyone...like addiction.
Now the award-winning and internationally produced playwright is bringing that perspective to the stage in a deeply personal and poignant world premiere family drama Saving Cain, playing this June at the Hudson Guild as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
In Saving Cain, a far-right, Pentecostal helicopter-mom struggles to keep her hell-raising son on the path of righteousness as he enters his first public school. When a powerful addiction takes over her son's life, she must accept that you can't save everyone, and that not every miracle can be left up to God.
"I wanted to write something that shows the heart of that massive cultural divide, and how addiction is a monster with no political affiliation," Kozak said. "I believe there is still a desire to see new American dramas that challenge the audience and move us to re-evaluate our own perspectives on certain people and situations. This play is unique because our hero is a Trump supporting, hardcore Christian, imperfect, misguided, single mother, and our hope is that we humanize her for what will no doubt be a primarily liberal audience."
That humanizing of often estranged characters is at the heart of Kozak's writing and has earned him acclaim for his work over the years. He was the winner of the inaugural Fringe First Award at the first Hollywood Fringe with The Birthday Boys, which saw full runs in L.A., Off Broadway and even in Sydney at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts. It also was the first theatrical production to play at the historic Texas Theatre since the vaudeville era. He is also the playwright behind the critically praised western historical drama Round Rock and Goodbye Love, Goodbye Joy, Hello Travis McElroy. Saving Cain is his first new full-length work in five years.
Helming the production is theatre veteran David Chrzanowski and he is joined by a cast of Fringe veterans, including Leah Verrill (The Women of Lockerbie, White Trash Wedding and a Funeral), Lenny Hernandez (Round Rock, Short Plays For All Your Problems) and Jim Martyka (A Very Die Hard Christmas, Three Can Keep a Secret).
With Saving Cain, Kozak hopes to not only address that gap, but start to build a bridge across it.
"The cultural divide in America is real, and it is vast, but at some point, we are going to have to reconcile," Kozak said. "It's very easy for a liberal audience (and a liberal playwright) to participate in a show that highlights people and ideas we all agree with. But theatre is meant to be challenging, and the challenge of this play is stripping away all the self-righteousness, blind hypocrisy, fake news, anti-science nonsense, all of that terrible stuff we on the left despise, and finding the humanity in our political opponents. Because at the end of the day, they suffer as we do."