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Raising the Bar

November 25, 2022

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.