Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Interview: Jaden Corniea And Miles Johnson of ALL AMERICAN BOYS at Stages Theatre Company And Capri Theater

This production runs now through May 22nd

BWW Interview: Jaden Corniea And Miles Johnson of ALL AMERICAN BOYS at Stages Theatre Company And Capri Theater

The lives of two high-school boys, one black and one white, powerfully intersect after a violent act of racially motivated police brutality. Unfolding through the boys' alternating perspectives, the story follows their journey as they grapple with the devastating impact of racism as it reverberates through their families, school and town. Stages Theatre Company is proud to bring this important play, based on the award-winning book by Brendan Kiely and National Book Award winner and Ambassador of Children's Literature, Jason Reynolds, to Twin Cities audiences.

Originally produced by Off the Page. Produced by special arrangement with Playscripts, Inc. www.playscripts.com

We chat with Jaden Corniea (QUINN) and Miles Johnson (RASHAD) about their roles and the production.

Jaden Corniea (QUINN):

How does it feel to perform in front of an audience and to have live theatre back?

It feels so great to have live theatre back in my life. I love performing for audiences and really missed that feeling. The past few years have really had the life sucked out of them, but the joy of having the stage back just proves that a world without live theatre is a world that's infinitely worse.

How does this role compare to other roles you've played?

I've never had a role that makes me ask as many questions about myself and the world I live in quite like this one. Every time I perform as Quinn, I feel so emotionally liberated. Especially after such a delicate and emotional rehearsal process. Performing has never paid off for me as much as it has for All American Boys

Do you have a favorite moment in the show?

My favorite moment is when Quinn gets a reality check from English. I just feel like it's the point where Quinn starts to truly gain new perspective surrounding this situation and his place in it. Also Edric, who plays English, is such a good actor and is a fantastic scene partner, so that makes it all the better.

What was the process for developing your character?

I really wanted to bring some of my feelings and experiences to the character, but also create a different and more nuanced character than the one on the page. I mean Quinn lost his dad when he was young and doesn't have a great relationship with his mom, the biggest mentor he has is Paul, and after witnessing what Paul does to Rashad, where does he go from there? One of many things my directors and I talked about was how Quinn's character arc plays out, and how the end of the play is actually sort of the beginning of Quinn's story and his path of change

Did you face any challenges with your role or the production?

If I'm being honest, doing this show was scary. It's such an important and relevant story. So getting it right was weighing on my mind throughout the process. I'm just so glad I have the amazing cast and crew I do.

How was working with the cast and creative team?

We created a tight knit community from the start. Rehearsals were an open discussion where everyone had a voice. Rehearsals were a dialogue, instead of the more normal type of thing. We all together created a heartbreakingly beautiful play, and I couldn't have asked for a better cast and crew.

Favorite local spots?

Besides the beautiful Capri theater and its space, there's a really good place to eat called the Olympic cafe, right by the theater!

Miles Johnson (RASHAD):

How does it feel to perform in front of an audience and to have live theatre back?

Having audiences back after such a long time with no live audiences is such a surreal experience. I am enthusiastic about being able to feel the energy from a live crowd. Due to Covid, I forgot how much a crowd can make or break a show and how much actors rely on a positive crowd.

How does this role compare to other roles you've played?

This role is different than the other roles I've played in the past. Before this show, I'd been used to doing lighthearted plays and lighthearted musicals where there weren't any real-life topics. But playing Rashad in all American boys is a different experience. Especially because the recent events with George Floyd in my hometown Minneapolis made this role have much more significance to me

Do you have a favorite moment in the show?

My favorite part of the show was where we sang and danced to a jingle we made for "Jerry's Corner mart" that we as a cast collaborated to create. What makes it so special is that the whole cast helped with it, so it's our jingle that we made. It's one of my favorite parts because I think it is important within such heavy pieces also to have funny moments and happy moments that the audiences can have fun with, and so can the cast

What was the process for developing your character?

My process for developing the character was first off reading the book, which I highly recommend because it is one of my favorite books. Another thing I did to develop my character was watch documentaries and TV shows about Police Brutality. My favorite of the many I have watched is "when they see us" on Netflix. It is a true story about the famous case of the Central Park five. And it has great acting from the African American youth cast that I looked to as inspiration. I also educated myself further about the data and the facts about police brutality specifically aimed against African-American youth.

Did you face any challenges with your role or the production?

A challenge I faced with my role was just the pressure of wanting to get the show perfect every single time because if I didn't, I felt like I was letting down so many people. But what I didn't realize at the time is that no show will be perfect; no matter how much effort or how much work you put into a show, it will not be perfect.

How was working with the cast and creative team?

Working with the cast and creative team was a great and surreal experience. Everyone was so nice, caring, and supportive throughout this play which I think made everyone more comfortable trying new things and doing stuff they wouldn't usually do. Also, the cast is such a close family, which lifted everyone up and developed a trust within the cast that everyone has each other's backs no matter what happens on stage, no matter what mistakes are made, the rest of the cast will be there to help you and won't judge you.

Favorite local spots?

One of my favorite local spots is Munkabeans coffeehouse in Hopkins. It is such a cool and relaxed environment with great drinks and food that all the cast loves going to. It has a friendly vibe to it. It also has such fun and nice employees that make you feel welcome as soon as you open the door

Thank you both for your time!

For more show and ticket information, click here

Photo courtesy of Stages Theatre Company and Capri



Related Articles View More Minneapolis / St. Paul Stories


From This Author - Jared Fessler