Before we were all stuck inside under quarantine, I had the pleasure of attending a performance of Border People as a part of Working Theater’s 35th anniversary season. It is a solo show, written and performed by award-winning artist, playwright and actor Dan Hoyle, directed by Nicole A. Watson (Round House Theatre – Maryland). Border People is based on Dan’s true conversations with immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and border crossers of all kinds at both the North and Southern borders of the United States. It offers true portraits of those, in Hoyle’s words, “who cross borders, geographical or cultural, by necessity or choice.”
The show and performance are thought provoking, conversation starting, and eye opening. The truth is, Border People have always been a part of our human story, our history, and our nations (in America and elsewhere), whether or not they are the center of attention. Many people and families have been made to feel like Border People by society even before it became a political battle, which is the case in almost all countries people migrate to in order to seek a better life for themselves and their families. The way Dan was able to create the various characters by simply changing his body language, voice, and accents is something to see for sure. He creates the personas of people from various backgrounds, countries, races, sexes, and sexualities so convincingly that you forget he’s the same person in the same outfit the whole time.
I’m hoping once quarantine is over Border People gets a chance to resurface. Since our news is mostly comprised of virus updates, politicians battling each other, and the latest celebrity who has tested positive, stories like this seem to have disappeared but I am sure the reality for the people behind these stories are still very real. They are probably being impacted by everything going on, just as we are.
After the performance I attended, a Q&A was held with Palika Makam, media activist and the US Senior Program Coordinator at WITNESS and Jess Beck, documentary producer, writer, and director. I am including the video of the session so graciously provided by Jess and her co-producer Kevin Brown, who filmed the panel. You can watch it all here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJ0wrGHtt5w&feature=youtu.be
WITNESS is committed to help people use video and technology to protect and defend human rights. I encourage you to check them out to see the progress they are making in the world. I personally found Palika‘s stories and knowledge very interesting and educational. Jess and Kevin have Go Fund Me to help make a documentary about the border crisis and are so close to their goal. Check it out and help them exceed it. I think Jess gave excellent eyewitness accounts of what she has been seeing throughout their work as well.
Keep an eye out for Border People in NYC and the States, perhaps it will even come to Canada at some point as well.