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In 'Emigrados' at the Bard's Town, Art Imitates Immigrant Life

Francisco Juarez and Carlos Manuel in Teatro Tercera Llamada's "Emigrados"
Francisco Juarez and Carlos Manuel in Teatro Tercera Llamada's "Emigrados"

A play opening Thursday night in Louisville sheds light on the experiences and expectations of immigrants.  Presented in Spanish with English supertitles, “Emigrados" focuses on two immigrant men with different expectations for their new lives.

One (Francisco Juarez) is an academic who had to leave his country of origin for political reasons; the other (Carlos Manuel) is an impoverished shepherd who hopes to find easy prosperity after his relocation.

The audience is not told where the characters are from, or even their names. Director Haydee Canovas said that’s because the piece is commenting on the commonality of immigrant experiences.

“Immigration is a universal theme. It’s been happening since the beginning of time," she explains. "If somebody doesn’t feel safe where they’re living, they’re going to preserve themselves and their family, and they’re going to move to a place that’s safer.”

Canovas is a first-generation Cuban-American herself, and said the themes in the show ring true with her own family's story. "At the end, my parents were happy to have immigrated, but it’s always that doubting: Do I leave my country of origin for something unknown?”

“Emigrados,” written by Polish playwright Sławomir Mrożek, first opened in Paris in 1974, and is part of the theater of the absurd tradition — using non-realistic or nonsensical elements, or unexplained settings (the play takes place in a basement, on New Year's Eve).

Teatro Tercera Llamada, the producing company, was co-founded by Canovas and the two actors appearing in this production in 2013. Their mission is to present Spanish-language theater pieces with a focus on social consciousness.

The production runs through March 21st at the Bard’s Town Theater.

Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects. Email Laura at lellis@lpm.org.

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