HERE Presents DREAM ACTS, 3/23-25
Dream Acts, written collectively by Mia Chung, Jessica Litwak, Chiori Miyagawa, Saviana Stanescu and Andrea Thome, and directed by Kristin Horton, performed by Neimah Djourabchi, Anna Kull, Rey Lucas, Rory Lipede, Tiffany Villarin, with consulting dramaturgy by Suzy Fay, will premiere at HERE, with performances on March 23-25 at 7pm, March 25 at 2pm and a free panel discussion with undocumented youths and the artists on March 25 at 2pm.
The panel is on Sunday, March 25 at 5 pm. Featuring DREAM-eligible undocumented youth Yelky Ramos and Nataly Lopez, and special guests: Thanu Yakupitiyage (DREAM Fellowship Coordinator, New York Immigration Coalition), Carlo Alban (theatre/film artist, author of the autobiographical solo show "Intringulis", about his life as an undocumented immigrant), Marcy Arlin (artistic director of Obie-winner Immigrant Theater Project, CUNY professor), Meiyin Wang (associate producer of "Under the Radar" Festival and Symposium in New York). Moderated by playwright Saviana Stanescu.
This production is a part of the Spring Artist Lodge series of HEREstay, HERE’s curated rental program, which provides artists with subsidized space and equipment, as well as technical support.
In Dream Acts, five undocumented teens from Nigeria, Mexico, Ukraine, Korea, and Jordan face the extraordinary challenge of living ordinary lives under the radar. Through their experiences, we learn about facts about the DREAM Act and the secret lives lead by undocumented youth.
DREAM Act Union (www.dreamactunion.org) is a group of seven women theater artists from diverse backgrounds. Mia Chung is a Korean-American playwright obsessed with migration in all its forms, ranging from geographic to economic. Jessica Litwak is a theatre activist, teacher, playwright, drama therapist and actor. Chiori Miyagawa is a Japan-born U.S. playwright whose work often revolves around themes of memory and identity. Andrea Thome is a Chilean-Costa Rican, Wisconsin-born playwright who grew up navigating multiple landscapes and languages. Saviana Stanescu is a Romanian-born award-winning playwright and the founder/president of Immigrant Artists and Scholars in New York. Kristin Horton is a director primarily interested in new plays that engage cross-cultural dialogue as well as the staging of classics for the Contemporary Stage.
DREAM Act Union formed as a working group when playwright Chiori Miyagawa realized that the failed immigration bill, the DREAM Act, was largely unknown to her peers and invited like-minded theater artists to brainstorm about how the awareness about the bill could be raised through a theatrical event among the theater makers, audiences and educators. The legislative proposal is meant to provide a legal pathway for youth who entered the country before age 16 to be with their parents to become documented if they go to college or serve in the military for two years.
The process for the project began with the playwrights having conversations with undocumented youths. The youths who volunteered to talk to them were enthusiastic and even grateful that they were interested in their stories, and the writers were moved by their plight as well as their dreams and ambitions. This play is not a documentary drama, and the stories are not based on their lives. The content of the play is inspired by them as well as recent events.
The play was written through a collaborative process. Each writer began from a perspective different from her own ethnicity and wrote a ten-minute play. Next, the team integrated the five short plays by interweaving the stories of the five central characters. Then the writers wrote in pairs scenes in which two of the central characters meet. Through Guided by director Kristin Horton, the group has created a tapestry, portraying the lives of five undocumented youth.
This project is co-sponsored by Immigrant Artists and Scholars in New York (an alliance of outstanding people working in the arts and academia who are committed to support, nurture and advocate for immigrant voices as a vital and vibrant part of the New York City community) and has received developmental support from the Lark Play Development Theater, New Dramatists, New York Theatre Workshop, INTAR, and NYU Gallatin. The presentation is made possible in part by Bard College Research Fund, NYU Faculty Development Fund, and New Generation Theatre Ensemble.
Photo Credit: Ann Marie Dorr