Tag Archives: American Dream

PHOTOS: Opening young eyes and minds at heartfelt matinee of ‘My Mañana Comes’

SS pix 001How does theatre dramatize important social, political and cultural issues in a way that is compelling and meaningful? Can a play bring to life the challenges of immigration and the struggle of undocumented workers in a story that reveals the human being behind the stereotype? Isn’t it remarkable how the magic of theatre pulls us into the personal lives of these colorful characters in this play and then delivers a heart-stopping blow at the end that forces you to examine your own belief systems about yourself?

These compelling questions — and more — were some of the topics raised in a heartfelt Q&A discussion with the cast following yesterday’s matinee performance of My Mañana Comes. The audience included young people and adults from The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company, a non-profit organization that makes theatre accessible to low income youth and adults. The program also uses theatre as a vehicle to create community and empower, educate and give artistic voice to young people.

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My Mañana Comes is a funny and powerful new play about four busboys — three Mexican, one African American — in a upscale restaurant who battle issues of immigration, fair pay for labor, and chasing the American Dream. The play utilizes fast-paced dialogue and slang in both English and Spanish. That same diversity was reflected in the cultural mix at yesterday’s Q&A when the discussion was conducted and translated in both Spanish and English.

The interchange between artists and young people in the community was made possible through the Fountain Theatre’s educational outreach program, Theatre as a Learning Tool, which provides the life-enhancing experience of live theatre to underserved young people throughout Southern California.

“Our goal at the Fountain is to use the power of theatre to put a human face on the social, political and cultural issues of our day,” says Co-Artistic Director Stephen. “And to open the eyes and minds and hearts of young people. There is nothing more rewarding than making theatre available to those in our community who otherwise have little or no access to what theatre can do.”

NEW VIDEO! Meet actor Pablo Castelblanco from ‘My Mañana Comes’ at Fountain Theatre

My Mañana Comes runs April 16 – June 26  MORE/Get Tickets 

Playwright Elizabeth Irwin: putting a human face on timely issues with ‘My Mañana Comes’

 

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Elizabeth Irwin

The funny and powerful new play, My Mañana Comes brings to colorful life the friendship and competition between 4 busboys working in the kitchen of an upscale New York restaurant. The play was hailed “Terrific” by the NY Daily News. The Los Angeles Premiere opens at the Fountain Theatre on April 16.   

Playwright Elizabeth Irwin worked for years alongside these overworked and under-appreciated foundations of the service industry. Here in her own words, Elizabeth Irwin shares why she decided to tell their story, and her inspirations and aspirations for My Mañana Comes and the rest of her writing.

What was the initial inspiration behind My Mañana Comes?

I was inspired to write this play to put the question of what a political issue like undocumented immigration actually means to people who are directly affected it, both those who are undocumented and those who work alongside and have relationships with them. I worked in the restaurant industry for a long time and am fortunate to be able to chronicle this story.

What makes this story important? What makes these characters so interesting to you, even though their backgrounds are so different from your own?

Instead of looking at the interests of someone like a politician around the issue of immigration, this story looks at the people it actually affects and explores the complications and nuances of their lives. These characters and this story are interesting to me because they’re human – none of them are perfect and none of the conflicts exist in a clearly black and white way.

You’ve been a teacher in both New York City and Mexico. What attracted you to teaching?

It’s not so much an attraction as a propulsion. I believe deeply in the power of education and the relationships between teachers and students to expand the choices of students and to remove limitations. Education as a tool to erase inequality is something the keeps me up at night. (Though I’m currently working on a play about this which fortunately is giving me a healthy outlet so I can sleep more!)

The play is set in New York, but it feels very relevant to California. Is the story of undocumented immigrants in America different in different parts of the country? What does your play say about the American Dream?

I think there is a common thread which is that when one is willing to make a change as drastic as leaving behind one’s country, one’s family, everything one knows, the stakes of success are much higher. That being said, “success” can mean different things to different people and this play looks at those differences because there is no one immigrant story. I hope this play sheds light on just how challenging it is to simply survive in the U.S. We can talk about the American Dream as something that you can achieve through hard work but we must also acknowledge the enormous amount of luck it involves and that the circumstances that one is born into has an enormous effect on whether it can be realistically achieved.

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The cast of ‘My Manana Comes’ at Fountain Theatre

Who did you write this play for and why?

Like everything I write, this was something I couldn’t stop thinking about or talking about and eventually you get tired of just having conversations about something and you sit down and try to make some art that can reach an audience and get people to think about things beyond their own everyday experience. This play is for everyone who cares about their fellow human and wants to understand them better. I hope this play inspires conversation, compassion, action, and/or acknowledgement of one’s privilege, depending on how it relates to an audience member.

The Los Angeles Premiere of My Mañana Comes runs April 16 – June 16.  MORE/Get Tickets 

This post originally appeared: Marin Theatre Company