Teens' Play Brings Immigration Conversation to North Texas

As the immigration debate wages on at the border, a group of North Texas teens is taking to the stage to bring the conversation a little closer to home.

Cry Havoc Theater Company first partnered with Kitchen Dog Theater back in the spring to start work on a show that would take a look at immigration from both sides of the aisle.

Inspired by news of family separations, eight teens traveled down to McAllen over spring break to sit through court proceedings, talk with those seeking asylum and to meet with the judges, attorneys and volunteers who work closest to the issue.

"I was aware of the family separation crisis. I was aware of the asylum seekers being stopped at the border, but I guess that truth didn’t really set in to me until I met the people on the bridge," said college freshman Mary Bandy.

Though Bandy has traveled and performed with Cry Havoc in the past, she says this experience has been a unique and rigorous process.

"Pretty much everything in this show are the key moments from our interviews down at the border. I think the voice of the individual is really what makes this so powerful," said Bandy.

That's the only way they felt they could create a show, called "Crossing the Line", describing what's really happening.

"I think if we’re wanting to authentically and accurately represent people's voices, we need to actually capture what they have to say," said founder of Cry Havoc Theater Company, Mara Richards Bim.

It’s a process that resulted in hundreds of hours worth of audio, whittled down over several months to create a two-act play that would bring that conversation home.

"There's an incredible passion and there's a real cognizance of the importance of relaying someone else's story that I think they have in a way I certainly didn't have as a teenager," said Artistic Director of Kitchen Dog Theater Tim Johnson.

"The message that we're sending out there is to just really spark a conversation," said junior Landon Robinson.

And with several shows under their belt, Robinson believes they have.

"It's not a black and white picture. It’s not a straight border line. There's so many factors on the political side and on the humanitarian, people side," said Robinson.

That's why Bim says the process behind the show stretches beyond art to become a lesson in civics for a group of teenagers she hopes will continue to participating in conversations many shy away from.

"We live in a really divisive time where people don't talk with one another. So if we can create a space for young people to have a dialogue with people from all sides of the aisle, then potentially they can go forward and help facilitate that dialogue moving forward," said Richards Bim.

The show continues to run at the Trinity River Arts Center through Sunday night.

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