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Texas theater company feels moral responsibility to tell stories of Central American immigrants

By Alain Castillo

This summer, a local Dallas, Texas theatre company will step into the national immigration debate with a hard look at an immigrants’ experience south of the US border.

The production, “The Dreamers: Part One” created by the Cara Mia Theatre ensemble and led by local director and writer David Lozano, explores the lives of three women fleeing El Salvador’s economic, social and political instability following its 1980-92 civil war, where its affects are still felt today.

Scene from The Dreamers: Part 1 (Photo: Fabian Aguirre)
Scene from The Dreamers: Part 1 (Photo: Fabian Aguirre)

Through their journey to the United States, these women run into corrupt immigration officials and thieves who threaten them with violence, kidnappers who hold victims for ransom and drug cartels who force women into prostitution all taking place south of the US border, says Lozano.

“People are experiencing this story and we wanted to show the community what Latinos are going through to reach this country,” said Lozano, 37, a University of Texas at Dallas Arts and Humanities graduate, who has worked for Cara Mia since 2002.

“After hearing about the stories of immigrants passing through Mexico in the current era of drug violence, we felt a moral responsibility to tell this story,” he said, noting that The Dreamers is a general title for all immigrants.

Lozano said that many of Cara Mia’s members know of immigrants from Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador who have lived similar experiences as these characters. They investigated and interviewed their own parents, neighbors and members in the Dallas area.

They especially highlighted immigrants from El Salvador in the production, because of its growing population in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, estimated to be at least 43,400, according to 2008 figures of the Immigration Information Source.

“These are the tribulations that immigrants have to overcome to reach our border,” said Lozano.

“This production was not made for entertainment, but to share a cultural experience of a story that needs to be told. The story is not just around the world, but just next door to the US.”

In the production, a character named Alicia, played by Frida Espinosa Müller, is one of the Salvadoran women who experiences difficulties.

Alicia, married with young children, lives through a troubling economic and social situation. In the play, she is battered once by her husband because of the pressures of being unemployed and she is holding a job as a factory worker.

She then decides to change her life and takes her children to live with their grandmother in San Salvador before traveling through Mexico on her way to the U.S. However, she runs into trouble.

Through it all, Alicia feels guilty for not taking her children and fears not seeing them again.

“There are many mothers who have this sorrow because they leave their children behind,” said Müller, in Spanish.

“In this production we will show a lot of messages, but it’s very complex,” she said.

“There is a diversity that exists between human beings with drug cartels and sex trafficking and also, solidarity that people can give you along the journey,” she said.

“We want to show the diversity of this journey.”

Lozano also said that the production will explore why some call these countries “broken.”

“We want people to see what takes place in our neighboring countries and to see what happens in Mexico, in El Salvador and how the US is involved in the history of these countries,” he said.

Latina Lista contributor Alain Castillo is a Dallas-based freelance journalist.

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