Playwright Michael Shaw Fisher in response to Susan Meiselas’ photograph.
Playwright Ruben Carbajal in response to Lewis Wickes Hine’s photograph.
Performed by Severyn Banes, Harry Barandes, Paul Guyet, Christopher Halladay, Alice Johnson, Laura Lamberti, Emma McBride, and Eric Percival.
Executive Producer – David Hoffman
Producer & Director – Kerry Kastin
Citzen Racecar – Producers
Special thanks to Magnum Foundation & Susan Meiselas/Magnum
As a rancorous and divisive political debate around immigration policy rages across our country, many seem to forget that the huge waves of people who came here from Eastern Europe, Italy, and Ireland around the turn of the twentieth century – for many of us, our grandparents or great-grandparents – went through a strikingly parallel experience to that of recent immigrants from Latin America. Both groups experienced exceptional fear tempered by exceptional hope for the future, dehumanization at the hands of the bureaucracies set up to deal with their arrival, and the sometimes violent ambivalence of their new neighbors and co-workers.
This piece is an attempt to dramatize these parallel experiences, each as crystalized by a photograph – the first taken at Ellis Island in 1905, the second in San Diego in 1989. These images were assigned to two acclaimed playwrights, who each imagined the experience of his photograph’s subjects. The Electromagnetic Theater, a contemporary radio drama company, produced the resulting plays for this installation.
The two plays and their corresponding images run on a continuous loop of approximately twenty minutes.
The Electromagnetic Theater is a unique narrative experience for the age of podcasting, built on the tradition of American radio drama. We present newly commissioned short plays, performed by a company of first-call New York theater and voice actors, and brought to life in an immersive soundscape.