Johamy Morales, SCT Director of Education reflects on her time as the director of Anon(ymous) and its impact beyond the stage.
"Begin in the middle. On the border. On the crossing. Begin in the place in between.” The playwright, Naomi Iizuka, begins and ends the play with this image. As a first generation, Mexican American woman living in the United States, this image palpitates my American experience and forces me to reflect on my childhood, upbringing, and present. I do not identify as an American, since society reminds me the color of my skin and culture I represent. I don’t consider myself Mexican due to the fact that when I visit my parent’s homeland I’m reminded that I am from El otro lado (the other side). Therefore, I live in the middle, bridged between these worlds, and I feel lucky to share the joy and pride of this privilege through this creative process with my cast and artistic team.
Anon(ymous) has provided me the opportunity to reflect on how we live in a time of hate and violence against one another in this country, and how I have seen us working with one another through distrust and fear. I hear responses to one another, becoming defensive as we shift into “them vs. us mentality.” As we fight for the opposite outcome, we continue to deflect the impact we have with our words and actions in order to protect ourselves as a country, or so we think. The consequence is that we do not listen to one another, we perpetuate the cycle, and this is what we are teaching our children. As an adult, artist, and educator it is my responsibility shift the future of this story by being an example on how I respond to this world, in times of uncertainty.
In the midst of this story there is a literal, physical, metaphorical and a symbolical war taking place in America. Glimpses of distant worlds where adults and children have migrated from, share why they have been forced to migrate. Playwright Iizuka feels that the relevance of this play in a given moment should not dilute its universal themes. Although Iizuka recognizes that Anon(ymous) is perhaps more timely than ever, she stresses that we cannot forget that it is the perennial story of refugees and immigrants in the past and in the future--it is universal and transferable, regardless of the political climate.
Through this rehearsal process and as we share this story with you tonight, my hope is that it will make our community reflect on these themes while opening important dialogue with young people. What is our responsibility as an American, in a country that was founded on the immigrant experience? How do we teach ourselves and our children to show empathy for people and new cultures that immigrate to the United States in pursuit of the American dream? How do we utilize our privilege and power to care, protect, and nurture all our children no matter where they come from? How do we empower our youth to advocate for those most vulnerable? How do we empower our youth to discover their identity and feel valued when belonging to a community with their differences? How do we utilize our power for good in the face of hate?
As an audience, citizen, parent, grandparent, or child what does this story bring afloat for you?
Catch Anon(ymous),the third production in SCT's Summer Season, August 1-3 at 7 p.m. Tickets $12.