So to get started, will you tell me a little bit about what this play is and how you were inspired to create it?
NO ONE ASKED ME is about three "undocumented" high school seniors about to graduate from a Bronx high school, facing an uncertain future and fearing deportation. (Over 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high schools in the U.S. every year.) These high school seniors (Daniel, Alyssa and Sophie) are from Uganda, Peru, and the Dominican Republic. I have worked for over ten years as a college counselor at a Bronx high school and have tried to help dozens of students without legal immigration papers navigate the immigration and college process. NO ONE ASKED ME is inspired by the stories of my students.
Why do you think these stories should be told through theater, as opposed to another medium (visual art, music, dance, published essay, etc.)?
I think the lives of these undocumented teenagers should be told through theater because their stories come alive through an audience watching their struggles, hearing their voices.
What is something that you hope audiences will take away from seeing NO ONE ASKED ME?
I hope the audience will leave the theater remembering the human struggles of these teenagers who were brought to this country by their families and did not purposely "break" the law. I hope the audience will now be able to put a face to the "immigration" struggles and debate in the U.S.
Secondly, I'm curious about your thoughts on representation in theater. In this case, there's these real kids who are having stories about them portrayed for audiences by people who are pretending to be like them. What do you think is the job of the creative team--playwright, director, actors, etc.--in representing real people's lives? How much personal experience do you think the creative team should have in common with the people they're representing?
While some of the cast have had family members who recently went been through the immigration process, other cast members began this play without much involvement or background about the current immigration situation. But I think I can say without hesitation, that everyone in NO ONE ASKED ME, whether as an actor or production team member, has immersed themselves in stories and facts about the US immigration system. We watched films, read ongoing news articles, spoke with undocumented teenagers, and talked as a team about what undocumented teenagers and their families face living here without papers. Delving into the issue both as individuals and as a team, brings a layer of complicated richness to NO ONE ASKED ME.
No One Asked Me Written by Kate Ballen
Directed by Matthew Newton
Venue #2: Flamboyan Theatre at the Clemente
(All performances sold out except Tues, Aug. 19th, added by popular demand) FRI 8/8 @ 8pm SAT 8/10 @ noon THU 8/14 @ 2pm SUN 8/17 @8:30pm TUE 8/19 @ 8pm FRI 8/22 @ 4pm