By Azure Wickert
“This show contains language,” Dr. Darise Error, professor and director, said as students and faculty settled into their seats October 18 for the special Thursday morning showing of “¿De Dónde?” If that was something individuals found bothersome, she said, “there’s the door.”
The language was the least of the heartwrenching and unsettling pieces of the show. The story peers into the lives of economically destitute or politically oppressed Latin American refugees following the inscription at the feet of Lady Liberty, the slogan of American hospitality, as they seek asylum within American borders.
Error announced to the audience before the performance started that although the special showing was scheduled for students’ benefit, it was not the entirety of the show. There were scenes that had to be left on the cutting room floor in order to allow the show to fit within the time frame of one class period.
While there were holes in the patchwork of some of the characters’ development because of the omissions, actor and Brookhaven College student Yanira Canales said she felt the overall message was still being represented.
Canales said, “The full version has more closure.” She felt unsure about whether or not people left feeling better about the stories of the individuals portrayed throughout the play. Canales’ character was one of the aforementioned characters who was cut short on development, and she urged that viewers come witness the full version (the version those in attendance saw Thursday had over an hour cut).
The story opens with border patrols squatted low in the valley, awaiting action as the crowd is introduced to three refugee characters. The dialogue within the play immediately takes a turn to the serious side, aimed to pull the audience in emotionally from the beginning. Throughout the show, the numerous roles, including refugees, guards, overworked paralegals and nuns, take turns with their monologues, exposing a variety of sides to the immigration issue. A returning character, Pete (Pedro) the paralegal, gives a narrative of testimonies from abused detainees in the processing center in Texas numerous times throughout the 80-minute program.
Student actor Lyn Williams discussed her unique position of portraying both a representative set to aid the refugees and a guard who abuses power within the walls of what the refugee characters in the show call “the corral.” Williams said, “It was hard to be mean to them,” referring to the detained characters in the play.
In previous conversation reported in an earlier issue of The Courier, Error said she was seeking a storyline that would make a difference when she selected this fall’s performance. In Mary Gallager’s “¿De Dónde?” Error felt she found something that would get people emotional. Audience member Mary Schoals said, “I feel guilty that I’m not doing anything about it.”