With immigration being discussed all around us in this state, one theater company could not help but address it in “Performing 1070, A Short-Play Festival.”
“Needless to say last year was a year in which Arizona caught the attention of the world,” said James Garcia, producing artistic director for the New Carpa Theatre Company. “In my work at the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce I was taking calls from Belgium and Germany and soforth, as well as those in the United States. In a way people were all asking the same question – why is there such a conflict over this issue? Why has it turned so ugly? I’ve been immersed in it since before the passage of Senate Bill 1070. I knew in some way, shape or form I had to deal with it as an artist as well.”
Garcia, an Ahwatukee Foothills resident, is a former journalist and a longtime playwright. He says he has written news stories and plays about immigration, but has also seen it first hand with his family from Mexico.
In recent years, Garcia has become more involved with community work and efforts to get the state to focus on things other than immigration. These short plays are part of that push to tell legislators to stop and let the federal government handle immigration.
Garcia sent out a message across the nation looking for short plays and performance pieces about immigration. He was pleasantly surprised when he he received 70 responses. Not only did he receive a wide variety of performances, but he said the work was very high quality.
“I sort of thought in my head, maybe prejudiced because I live here in the Southwest, that we were going to get plays about the border and about border patrol agents and immigrants from Mexico,” Garcia said. “That turned out not to be the case.”
The 12 works chosen for the final production show Irish immigrants in the prohibition era, Canadian immigrants, Native Americans, abstract ideas about building walls between cultures, as well as Mexican immigrants and the fears surrounding SB 1070.
Garcia says this is an artist’s way of expressing their feelings about immigration laws.
“If I were a lobbyist, I would go knock on doors,” he said. “If I were a legislator, I would bring these comments on the House floor. So as artists we can’t do the performance on the House floor but we can do it on the lawn. That’s the closest we can get. Maybe some of the legislators will stop and watch.”
The festival will have two performances. The group will perform at Arizona State University West, 4701 W. Thunderbird Road in La Sala A, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 30. This performance will also include some students from Carl Hayden High School. The second performance will take place on the House Lawn at the Arizona State Capitol, 1700 W. Washington St., on Thursday, March 31 at 11:30 a.m. Admission to both performances is free, but donations will be accepted.
Garcia hopes the performances will not only get a message across but entertain the audience as well. In the end, he hopes to contribute to the effort to get legislators to focus on what Arizona needs most.
“I truly want our state leadership to focus on those issues that are really about all Arizonans and not some small percentage of Arizonans,” Garcia said. “I don’t think it’s their place to do it and it takes them away from focusing the energy that they need to focus on. I’m involved in these issues and I care very deeply about what happens, but really most of my life I worry about my three children. I have a daughter about to go to college. I worry about the tuition rates. I’m worried about the value of my home. I’m worried, of course, about my job. Those are the things that preoccupy me and I want the state of Arizona to do whatever it can to deal with these issues. I want the federal government to deal with immigration. I hope that’s the result of what this all will be.”