World Premiere JUST LIKE US to Play The Stage Theatre, 10/4-11/3
The World Premiere of JUST LIKE US by Karen Zacarías, based on the book by Helen Thorpe in a Denver Center commission will run October 4 - November 3 in The Stage Theatre. Opening: Thursday, October 10 at 6:30pm.
Based on Helen Thorpe's bestselling book, this play follows four Latina girls in Denver as immigration status begins to erode their opportunities - and their friendships. When the crime of an illegal immigrant ignites a political firestorm, the girls, the city and the nation must ask themselves who has the right to live in America when achievements and documents collide.
Just Like Us had two workshops: one in 2012 in Los Angeles and one as part of the 2013 Colorado New Play Summit. This play was commissioned by DCTC Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson, who first approached Helen Thorpe for permission to adapt her book for the stage and then approached Karen Zacarías (Mariela in the Desert) about writing the adaptation.
Playwright Karen Zacarías was raised in Mexico until age 9, when she came to the United States with her family.
An undocumented immigrant can no longer become a citizen by simply marrying a US citizen. Under the current laws, the only way for that immigrant to get their papers would be to go back to their country of origin and apply for citizenship from there. This process could take as much as ten years or longer. Financially it is very difficult for undocumented students to attend college, as they are not allowed to apply for federal grants, loans or work study jobs.
"I grew up in Denver (Park Hill). My father was in journalism and worked for the Aurora Sentinel for a long time. At the time of his death 11 years ago, he knew most of the news people in town. My mom was a reporter as well and in her senior years, she became enamored equally with the Latino community, Spanish and baseball, specifically the Rockies. She convinced the Spanish newspaper here in Denver to let her write a baseball column. She'd interview the Hispanic players on the team and then have her Spanish teacher translate her column for the newspaper. My brother's family lives in the now "Sunnyside" area of Denver, near North High School. My niece won a scholarship in sixth grade for interviewing a female immigration lawyer about her work. When Kent called me and told me about a play adapted by the renowned playwright Karen Zacarías from a book written by a journalist (Helen Thorpe) in Denver about Mexican immigrants here, my interest was piqued. I'd read the New Yorker article about Helen's husband, about Manual High School. There were too many personal interests in the territory this play covers. My interest was deepened after I read the play and cemented once I'd read the book. Without revealing my politics - actually, I think immigration is a human issue, not a political one - and my own personal connections to the city it's based in, I felt that this play is an important one. It can achieve what theatre is meant to - challenge a community, make it think, illicit a response about its own life, examine its values and behavior through characters who may see the world from a different perspective. These are terrific characters to play, the extraordinary four girls and this privilegEd White journalist. I get to be in a diverse cast, another plus. Lastly, I thought my parents would be proud of me for doing this show." - Mary Bacon, actor playing the role of Helen Thorpe
"'Where are you from?' I always get asked after someone hears my accent. It seems it is a natural impulse to define where one belongs. We live trapped in clubs, nations, races, colors, definitions that are hard to break from yet we seem not to be able to live without. Just Like Us is about choosing who you want to be in spite of all statistics, stereotypes and labels that society throws at us; it's about finding the courage to build your own destiny." - Yunuen Pardo, actor playing the role of Marisela and Raul Gomez Garcia
"Just Like Us is a story about empowerment. It gives a voice to these four incredible young women. I can't wait for the community to see the power that a 17 year old girl can have. If all students fought this hard for their education - imagine the change in the world." - Allison Watrous, actor playing the role of Kelly Young and Carol Vizzi
Helen Thorpe Mary Bacon
Marisela/Raul Gomez Garcia/Ensemble Yunuen Pardo