We have now completed the Immigrant Stories project, after seven years and well over 100 performances. We are still available for bilingual shows for immigrant audiences, subject to funding.
Click here for a video clip of a performance with youth at the Mill Street Loft’s Habilidad program.
The Immigrant Stories project is a series of bilingual performances for groups of immigrants, begun in 2005 and funded by the Dyson Foundation.
In 100 performances so far, audience members have told stories about many different aspects of their lives as immigrants. A native Spanish-speaker provides translation at each show. Bilingual actors enact stories in Spanish and English. Immigrants from many other countries including Haiti, China, Bangladesh, and Kosovo have also taken part.
Stories from the first 20 shows have been published in a photo-illustrated, bilingual book, Half of My Heart/La Mitad de Mi Corazón.
Participants welcome the opportunity to tell and watch their stories, gaining a public voice, strengthening language skills, and deepening connections with each other. Non-immigrants who attend express increased understanding and respect.
Immigrant Stories shows have taken place in ESL classes; Head Start centers; schools; community centers; camps for migrant laborers’ children; a conference for Hispanic mothers and daughters; and more!
Thanks to the Dyson Foundation’s generous support, performances are free of charge to the host organization and audience members. Organizing agencies provide a venue and audience outreach.
If you would like to host a performance contact Jo Salas
Workshops are also available for ESL or other groups, where participants enact stories for each other.
Written comments from participants:
(translated from Spanish):
When I participated as a member of the audience for the first time it was very moving because you realize that you are not the only person going through this situation and you hear other people, all with different stories.
I felt really good about being able to share my experiences with others and laugh a little.
I liked that someone is interested in knowing about us and I would really like you to come back and do another presentation. I feel like I have more to tell.
It felt very good to me to be able to tell my story even though I didn’t know if I had enough courage to go up and tell. But at the end I felt very good for doing it, and that other people know something about me.
[When I told a story] I felt for the first time that someone saw what I lived in that moment. I couldn’t explain it in English but in the end they’re aware of the injustice that happened to me and at other times to other people as well.
It was helpful for language learning. One can practice English by hearing it slowly.
I’m very happy to have encountered this experience, so wonderful. In life you can always achieve everything when you persevere.
It’s very good what you’re doing because it helps us to know that someone listens to us even though sometimes we tell our stories with pain. But I like it.
(The following were written in English)
About the play that we saw was very good. Because in 20 years that I been here this is the first time that I talk in front of people so was very good.
About the Playback Theatre: was a surprise for me this performance based on the experiences of the students, was so real and touch my feelings. They are good in their improvisations, congratulations and thank you!
I had fun while I was watching play by theater. At the same time I was learning more English and I knew new things about my friend lives. That was great. The actors were very good performers.