BUENOS AIRES, Jan 24 (Reuters) – “Do we let them in?” Asks a political and evocative play created and directed by Oscar-winning actor Tim Robbins about the journey of those fleeing their countries to go to the United States. United, at a time when President Donald Trump has toughened immigration policy.
With the presence of Robbins, “The New Colossus” opened on Wednesday night the International Festival of Buenos Aires (FIBA), which until February 3 will turn the Argentine capital on the stage of some 220 plays, music, local and international visual arts and dance.
The work -which was also part of the Chilean festival Santiago a Mil- presents 11 actors, members of the Actors’ Gang Ensamble and descendants of immigrants, who relate the journey that their relatives made at different times to reach the United States in search of a better life.
The actors represent their mothers, grandparents and brothers desperately escaping from dramatic situations in Iraq, Mexico, Nazi Germany, Vietnam and Russia, among other countries, and count in what year they became refugees.
Each one in their language and with a suitcase, the characters are contributing small pieces of information that allow them to reconstruct their stories, the reasons why they decided to risk the dangerous trip to the United States, who they left behind, their fears, the advice that their loved ones gave them when they left, their memories and longings.
Although the characters maintain their individuality and their language, they share similar terrors as they escape, they run agitated screaming in circles around the stage and, in a kind of no man’s land, establish a camp where they fight to light a fire that protects them from the cold.
All actors have a similar role, which seems to reinforce the idea of equality, and maintain minimal communication with each other, while behind scenes of war scenes are projected, of immigrants fleeing and climbing walls, which complement the situation on the stage.
One of the characters is represented by Paulette Zubata, who tells the story of her mother, a Mexican from Michoacán who managed to escape violence and trafficking in her country and enter the United States. On Wednesday, he was among the audience in the open-air auditorium of Parque Centenario de Buenos Aires and received a tribute from the actors and the public.
Towards the end, when the immigrants have already crossed the border, the work asks: “Do we let them in?”. There is a silence until people in the audience shout “Yes”, which generates excitement among the actors and emotion in the audience.
At the end of the play, Tim Robbins took the stage and asked the refugees or immigrants present in the amphitheater to raise their hands, among which dozens of Venezuelans emerged, which sparked a tight applause on a day when the opposition leader of the Assembly National, Juan Guaidó, self-proclaimed president in charge of Venezuela, supported by Washington and several Latin American countries.
“We ask for acceptance from all those who are going through difficult times and welcome them. We are honored to be making this presentation in front of you and the world, “said Robbins, when audiences descended from multiple nationalities. (Report by Lucila Sigal, Edited by Juana Casas)