Given that immigration is perhaps the most diabolical issue of our time, there’s never been a better time to humanize this most polarizing subject.
Benjamin Benn’s “Alma” opens at Denver’s Curious Theater on Saturday, finding the stunned city of Denver suddenly squared off in the midst of the immigration crisis. Officials estimate that in the past month he has reached more than 4,000 immigrants in Denver. Not only does this strain the city’s resources, but it also forces the divided residents to reconcile what they believe Denver stands for as a city and what America stands for as a nation. I’m here.
Immigration is a very big problem. “Alma” is an intentionally very small story of an undocumented Mexican immigrant and her now 17-year-old American daughter, Angel. Both face significant challenges ahead, revealing a wide gap between their dreams for the future. Alma helps Angel study vocabulary for her SAT exam, which will determine her chances in college. Angel helps her mother study American history for her citizenship exam. Both are overwhelmed with excitement at the possibilities that tests can offer, but also fear the laws and loopholes that have been piled up against them.
“Alma, who is from Mexico, has very high aspirations for her daughter’s future,” said Bennu. “And growing up in America, Angel has a very different vision of what the American Dream means to her and what is possible and seemingly impossible in America.”
Bennu wrote a play about his mother. Or at least that’s what he was trying to do when he started writing it.
“My mother was an illegal immigrant from Guatemala who came to the United States in the late 1970s,” said Ben, who was born and raised in Los Angeles County. He tells the story of his youth, which, at least at first, seems shrouded in fear of an inevitable gruesome ending.
“I was in elementary school. One morning my mom said to me, ‘I can’t send you to school today.’ She did that every day,” Bennu said. “Instead, she said, ‘My friend Maria, I’m going to drop you off because I have something really important to do.'”
But the story doesn’t end in segregation, isolation and deportation, as it does for thousands of others. When Benne met her mother again that afternoon, she told him, “I am now a US citizen.”
Looking back on that memory today, Bennu thought it was surprising and a little arbitrary that her mother had suddenly become a citizen that afternoon instead of being a citizen in the morning.
“It got me thinking about the history of immigration and immigration law in America and how it has changed constantly,” said Benne, whose mother qualified for a pardon under President Reagan in the 1980s. Today, immigration issues are hidden under DACA, or the endangered legal status of deferred action for childhood arrival. This is a federal program created by the Obama administration in 2012 that currently provides legal stay, employment permits, and security from deportation to her 660,000 who entered the United States as children. But a recent court challenge further prevented him from claiming the same protection for another 1.5 million people.
Playwrights soon realized that the burgeoning idea of a play about a mother who was pregnant when she crossed the border at the age of 18 in the 1970s was no longer a mother’s story.
“Because for someone who is in the same situation my mother was in then, the path to my mother’s citizenship no longer exists,” he said.
The play takes place in a shared one-bedroom apartment.
“The play takes place in an ambiguous period after the election and before Donald Trump’s inauguration,” he said. I remember this collective moment seeing how . I am clinging to it.”
In 2019, “Alma” was named a winner of the National Latin Playwright Award, but only on paper at the time.
Judge and playwright Elaine Romero. “This is covertly socially relevant theater that asks us to observe the impact of the swing of the political pendulum on the lives of everyday people who have come to this country in search of their dreams.”
Monologues and murals humanize the endangered DACA.John Moore
“Alma” was selected for further development at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theater Company’s 2020 Colorado New Play Summit and was introduced as a staged read just one month before the pandemic shutdown. It caught the eye of Curious Theater’s new artistic director, Jada Suzanne Dixon.
Bennu said he hopes “Alma” will serve as a bridge for viewers who have watched the ongoing immigration crisis unfold for decades.
“In real life, when these stories make headlines, they’re very abstract,” he said. “When that happens, we can’t feel the heartbeat and heartbeat of two people who love each other so much and who really rely on each other to break up. I think we feel it instinctively when we’re sitting in a room with a woman from