By: Indiana Reed | February 20, 2020 | 10:49 AM
A dramatic theatrical presentation – The New Colossus – from the Actors’ Gang, comes to the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College, Tuesday and Wednesday, February 25 and 26 at 7:30pm.
A special “LunchBreak… The New Colossus” with members of the company will also be held on Wednesday, February 26, 12:30-1:30pm in the hall.
In The New Colossus, The Actors’ Gang members tell their ancestors’ stories, their struggles and their journeys from oppression to freedom. The play celebrates the courage and character of the refugees who came to the U.S. throughout the last 300 years. The ensemble cast of 12 reflects the great diversity that has defined who the U.S. is as a nation. The New Colossus is a celebration of diversity.
Set between the 19th century and present day, the play chronicles forced migration and the constant struggle for survival and dignity in an uncertain and hostile environment. The members of the acting company are from different parts of the world and tell their stories, each in a different language, and each in different dress.
The production showcases the true-life stories of:
- Homayun Dideban, born in Isfahan, Iran, in 1937
- Mehmet Fatih Tras, born in Adana, Turkey, in 1984
- Anna Margaret Wong, born in Borneo, Malaysia in 1934
- Jetta Rothschild, born in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1870
- Ly My Dung, born in Dalat, Vietnam, in 1953
- Sadie Duncan, born in Tensas Parish, Louisiana, in 1830
- Gabriela Mia Garcia, born in Puruandiro, Michoacan, Mexico, in 1970
- Elin Matilda Nylund, born in Kronoby, Finland, in 1885
- Aranka Markus, born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1933
- Mirko Petkovic, born in Mokro Polje, Yugoslavia, in 1922
- Tatyana Losifovna Birger, born in Moscow, The Soviet Union, in 1961
- Helga Schmidt, born in the Alpbach, in the Austrian Alps in 1888
The New Colossus shares a title with the sonnet written by poet Emma Lazarus in 1883 for an exhibit to raise funds for the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty, which opened in 1886. Though the Statue of Liberty was not conceived as a symbol of immigration, Lazarus’ “The New Colossus” reinvented the statue’s purpose, turning Liberty into a welcoming mother, a symbol of hope to the outcasts and oppressed of the world:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
At the end of each performance, the actors will engage the audience and ask them to share either their or their family’s experience of immigration.
Furthering the outreach to the community, in Durango, the Concert Hall will offer a “LunchBreak” welcoming all community members free of charge to visit the hall and engage with the actors, 12:30-1:30pm on Wednesday, February 26. The LunchBreak is in partnership with Compañeros and the FLC Latin American Student Center, El Centro de Muchos Colores, including local moderators and panelists. “Brown Bag” lunches are invited.
Discussing the production, Director Tim Robbins noted, “It’s so fascinating seeing the audience reaction to The New Colossus, learning where our audience comes from and hearing so many stories of their families’ journeys to the United States for a safer life. Every evening, after the performances, we hear moving testimony from the audience, from a woman born in a Displaced Persons Camp for Holocaust survivors in Norway to young people who spent the past 4-5 years in refugee camps before receiving asylum in the U.S. The New Colossus and the power of the true stories being told in this piece bring people together in such an inspiring way.”
The Actors’ Gang has produced more than 200 plays in Los Angeles and across the US, and on five continents. The company was founded in 1981 by a group of young artists looking to build a theater that would present relevant and vibrantly entertaining plays. Guided by founding artistic director, Tim Robbins, the company provides a supportive environment for a diverse ensemble of artists and the development of their groundbreaking work.
Tickets for The New Colossus ($54/$44/$34/$24) are available online at www.durangoconcerts.com, by phone at 970.247.7657, or in person at the Ticket Office inside the Durango Welcome Center at 8th St. and Main Ave. Posted ticket prices include applicable service charges. All sales final.
The Community Concert Hall is a not-for-profit, multi-use performance venue located on the campus of Fort Lewis College. Its ability to bring a diverse spectrum of shows to Southwest Colorado is made possible through a partnership with the college, a state-supported, independent institution of higher education, and through financial and in-kind contributions from generous members of the community.