Karen Zacarías‘ play Just Like Us premiered this month at the Stage Theater in Denver (part of the Denver Performing Arts Complex). The play is based on Helen Thorpe‘s book by the same name and tells the true coming-of-age story of four girls in Denver whose parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico. Two of the girls have legal status in this country, while the other two are without papers. Just Like Us chronicles the girls’ transition from high school to early adulthood and illuminates the inequality of opportunities available to a generation of young people in this country based solely on their legal status, even despite similarities in their education, upbringing, and determination to realize the American Dream.
When executed effectively, the theater offers more than just a spectator experience. A good play performed well should provoke the audience into critical thought and reflection. Condensing into a two-hour play the achingly complex true stories of four young women against the backdrop of a political firestorm that resulted when an illegal immigrant murdered a police officer surely could not have been an easy task. While the result of such a monumental undertaking is that some of the dialogue borders on trite, the success of Just Like Us is that it challenges its audience members to assess where they stand on the issue of immigration (and more specifically illegal immigration) and asks them philosophical questions about identity and what it means to be American. The chemistry among actresses Yunuen Pardo, Adriana Gaviria, Cynthia Bastidas, and Ruth Livier as Marisela, Yadira, Clara, and Elissa, respectively, elicits empathy for the girls and their circumstances. And yet the play also examines the far-reaching consequences of the means many illegal immigrants use to meet basic survival needs in this country, including using stolen identities and other fraudulent documentation for employment purposes. While the play poses so many questions about what is moral and what is fair, the closest thing to a conclusion it offers is that the whole issue of immigration is “inherently messy.”
Regardless of where you stand politically, Just Like Us will shed light on a perspective you might not have considered previously. It’s a story of people and policy and the gray area that affects millions of lives in the United States every day.
WHEN: Now through November 3, 2013 Tuesday – Thursday 6:30 p.m., Friday & Saturday 7:30 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday matinee 1:30 p.m.
Denver Center for the Performing Arts
The Stage Theater
1101 13th St
Denver, CO 80204
TICKETS: Please click here to purchase.