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LIU Brooklyn’s Theater Program to Present Immigration Play


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Long Island University,

Healing, forgiveness, and finding common humanity regardless of national origin are central themes in Elvira: The Immigration Play- the latest original production to be staged by LIU Brooklyn’s Theatre Program in the Performing Arts department. Elvira tells the story of Elvira Arellano, an undocumented Mexican woman who inspired a generation of immigrant rights activists by refusing to be deported and separated from her US citizen son. The play was written by award winning playwright and actress, Jessica Carmona.

Elvira Arellano made international news headlines in 2007 when she sought sanctuary from deportation in a Chicago church, where she lived with her son Saul for over a year. “She became known to many as the Latina Rosa Parks, because like Rosa she refused to obey a law that she felt was unjust. She continues to this day to fight for immigration reform to stop deportations and separation of families based on immigration status” said Carmona. 

Against this event the play ensues, as an imaginary encounter is presented between Elvira and a US Immigration Officer on the day of her arrest and right before deportation. Locked in an interrogation room, the two engage in a series of discussions around humanity, immigration, forgiveness, faith and ultimately healing of the human spirit. Through a series of flashbacks, the audience sees Elvira's story of migration across the border, dreaming of a better life. By the end of the play, both main characters are changed.

Theater Program Coordinator, Professor John Sannuto says the play is a timely contributor to the dialogue on immigration reform in America. “I thought this was a great time to do this play, for all of us to learn from it, because really the story is about what happens between the two of them [Elvira and the ICE Agent] and how they are both transformed as a result of this experience. I think it’s a very beautiful piece and a very important piece right at this time to be happening” said Sannuto.   

Carmona holds a similar outlook. “By staging this play, I hope to inspire people to look at the immigration debate through a new lens…a common, shared humanity that transcends borders, national lines, government and laws. I hope to inspire people to focus on our similarities as a human race, rather than focusing on geographic differences which create artificial division and separation between groups. We need to listen, really listen to one another and come together…to find solutions, building bridges and communities, not walls” she said.

Elvira will be staged at Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts at LIU Brooklyn from March 22 through March 26, 2016. Tickets are available at or (718) 488-1624.

Written by Kediesha Watkis

Posted 03/23/2016

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