Imagine having to spend a year behind bars, waiting impatiently for your life to begin anew.

Imagine going through the public humiliation, the stress and the media vilification that accompany the label of “child molester.”

Now imagine that you were innocent, and your accuser knew it. 

This scenario is the basic backdrop for Stanley Bennett Clay's play “Armstrong's Kid” opening Friday at the SMAAAC Center in Downtown Oakland. The play picks up 10 years after a gay African-American man, falsely accused of child molestation, is released from prison and visited by his accuser and son of his former best friend – “Armstrong's kid.”

The two person drama, starring Clay as Thaddeus Drake and Thandiwe Thomas De Shazor as Armstrong's kid, explores the range of feelings you'd expect from such an emotionally charged encounter – anger, hurt, betrayal, confusion – while allowing space for more nuanced revelations about family, friendship and identity. Don't expect a simple apology and run of the mill dialogue. It's complicated, just like in real life, and things get sticky quickly.

Clay, an NAACP Image Award winning actor, director and writer known for his controversial, but successful body of work, has crafted a play about African-American family and identity that builds on situations that, unfortunately, could have appeared in yesterday's headlines.

Erroneous accusations of child abuse are a constant specter looming over the LGBT community, while general African-American audiences are often hesitant to open up and “tell all their business” in regards to homosexuality. Armstrong's Kid pulls back the covers on both issues with a psychological examination that's equal parts Edward Albee and Marlon Riggs with enough Tyler Perry thrown in to keep audiences entertained.

The play runs Friday and Saturday night with a afternoon showing on Sunday. Tickets are available from