“I was born in Mexico and brought to the U.S. at the age of 3. It’s hard to be undocumented because I can’t do all the things I want, but doing this play inspired me to keep on trying.” (Maria, Elsie Allen High School Student)
“I’ve been the theater director here at Elsie Allen High School for all of its 20 years. Never has a play meant so much to our school and community. Thank you for creating this amazing piece of theater and for allowing us to share in your voice.” (Rob Burt)
This year, Home/Land became the first APTP-devised play to be performed by a group of young people beyond our ensemble. Forty students at Elsie Allen High School in Santa Rosa, California performed in the production, under the direction of theater teacher Rob Burt.
APTP devised Home/Land based on a year of ethnography and interviews among Chicago’s immigrant justice community. APTP premiered the play in 2012 at our home theater and reprised it in 2013 at the Goodman Theatre, a total of 47 performances for 7,000 audience members.
Rob Burt knew he wanted to stage Home/Land with his students in Santa Rosa as soon as he read the script in an anthology published by Northwestern University Press. Inspired by Mr. Burt’s passion, and by the relevance of Home/Land to the students at Elsie Allen and their families, APTP granted permission for the production, something we had never done before.
APTP directors David Feiner and Maggie Popadiak traveled to see Elsie Allen’s production on its closing night. “It was beautiful and inspiring,” Maggie reflects, still emotional about the experience, “to witness young people thousands of miles from Chicago invest themselves with passion and love in a play devised by our youth artists in Albany Park, telling a people’s history of Chicago’s immigrant justice movement.”
After the performance, the Elsie Allen cast presented David and Maggie with dozens of paper butterflies – a symbol of immigration – on which they’d written notes for the original Chicago cast about what it meant for them to perform Home/Land in Santa Rosa:
“My family always watches the performances I’m in, and for the first time they can relate to this one.” (Andrea)
“I just wanted to let you know that my life is in the play and the play means so much to me and my family. Thank you for giving us these wonderful stories to share.” (Cinthia)
“The play is very emotional and really hits close to home for a lot of people. I was born in Mexico and came to the U.S. when I was four years old. It’s been an inspiring experience to do this play and tell the story of these characters. I’ve never seen a more realistic performance.” (Ana)
Home/Land is also journeying into Chicago classrooms this year, by way of a video of the original APTP production. APTP commissioned three former Chicago Public Schools teachers to write a curriculum that middle-school and high-school teachers can use to teach Home/Land. Teachers at six Chicago schools are piloting the Home/Land video and curriculum this year.
And looking to the future, another student production is planned in Lubbock, Texas in Summer 2015, bringing together a cast of teens from throughout Lubbock County.
If you are a teacher interested in using the Home/Land video and curriculum in your classroom, or a director interested in staging a production, please contact David Feiner at email@example.com.