This past weekend Peyton and I took in I Come From Arizona at the Children’s Theatre in Minneapolis. I knew a little bit about the production and I was eager to see this with Peyton as I thought it would bring up some very good talking points and be a chance to teach her empathy for others as well as talk about the challenging times’ immigrants are facing here, in the US, right now.
The main focus of the play is Gabi Castillo, a precocious Mexican-American from the South Side Chicago. Based in our current day, 2018, Gabi is about to start her freshman year of high school at an elite high school. This is very different from the neighborhood school that has been attending since kindergarten.
During Gabi’s first week of school, she is assigned a very difficult assignment in her World Perspectives class. She needs to share with the class where she comes from, like where her ancestors are from and how they arrived in America. For most students, this is an easy, fun assignment but for Gabi, it turns her world upside down as she starts to question whether her family is documented or not. Her parents have always been hush hush about it and when asked where they come from always responds with the same phrase – We come from Arizona.
As Gabi presses her mother for information about where they come from and about her family she learns a lot. More than she expected. She learns how her parents ended up in Arizona and about her parent’s hometown in Mexico. She also becomes fully aware of how some Americans treat immigrants and finds her inner strength and courage to stand up in class, be honest and share what she has learned.
This was a very touching production. The actors did a phenomenal job at evoking emotions out of the audience and letting them feel exactly what it would be like for a 14-year-old girl finding out that her parents are undocumented, understanding the fear and danger her parents went through to come to Arizona and why they did it.
I Come from Arizona also brought up many questions from Peyton. She’s 8 years old and we live in a somewhat rural area and she has not had experience with any of her friends ever questioning where they come from. It led to a long and educational discussion with her about immigrants and why someone would want to come to the United States. We also talked about why someone would come here undocumented and be afraid to reach out for help once they were here.
I Come from Arizona will be at the Children’s Theatre until Sunday, November 25th. You can see the complete schedule and purchase tickets online at the Children’s Theatre. I Come from Arizona is an adaptation of Augusta and Noble written by Carlos Murillo. The play is roughly 90 minutes with a brief intermission about 55 minutes in. There are light snacks and refreshments available for purchase. This play does take place in the Cargill Theater which means bleacher seating atmosphere.
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