In and out of the Shadows, a play by Chicano writer Gary Soto, is about the lives and experiences of a group of undocumented teenagers living in California is coming to Bakersfield later this month. In a format loosely based on the Canterbury Tales, members of San Francisco Youth Theatre’s professional ensemble not only perform the play, but also gathered the oral histories from around the San Francisco Bay Area on which it is based, and which Soto has transformed into this vibrant, musical theater production with an exuberant original score performed with a live band.
Directed by Cliff Mayotte (from Voice of Witness) with music by SFYT Director Emily Klion and Bay Area luminary George Brooks, the show will be presented on Friday Sept. 25 at 9:30 a.m. at the Simonsen Performing Arts Center at Bakersfield College and on Saturday Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Doré Theater at CSU Bakersfield.
A #Healht4all panel discussion sponsored by Building Healthy Communities-South Kern (BHC-SK) will follow each performance featuring local leaders who will speak about the importance of providing access to health care for all Californians. The discussions will be moderated by Professor Gerald Cantu, Ph.D at Bakersfield College and Professor Mark Martinez, Ph.D at Cal State Bakersfield. A five-person panel consisting of local leaders, community experts, and DREAMers will share their stories regarding the challenges undocumented people confront every day because of the lack of access to health care.
In the show, the teens are preparing their personal statements for an AB540 conference at UC Berkeley (AB 540 allows DREAMers, as they are known, to attend school for in-state tuition rates.) We meet Juan, who crossed into the US alone via a sewer when he was 13. And Alberto who, as a determined six-year-old, had to be doused asleep with drugs during the crossing because he adamantly refused to give his cousin’s name as his own. We watch a newly urbanized Mexican teen teaching an undocumented Chinese friend how to speak street English.
Running through everything is the fear of deportation. Many families in the show have mixed status – undocumented parents whose documented children were born here, for example – who live in constant fear of family separation. Even under AB540 and President Obama’s deportation deferral (DACA) for certain undocumented youth, youth may suddenly be left alone without parents or caretakers. In & Out of Shadows’ diverse group of actors, many whom are directly affected by the issue, mix English, Spanish, Tagalog, Spanglish and other languages as they unfold the unwieldy human effects of this important political issue.
These performances are part of a series of events planned jointly between Bakersfield College and CSU Bakersfield commemorating the historical legacy of the Delano Grape Strike. Launched in September 1965, the Delano Grape Strike was one of the most significant labor and civil rights movements in American history. Each campus will feature scholars, films, and historical displays to recount the historical legacy of this labor and civil rights movement fifty years later.
Gary Soto is a nationally acclaimed poet and novelist of young adult fiction. Born and raised in the farm community of Fresno, he has a keen personal interest in Latino youth and first-hand knowledge of the challenges facing low-income immigrant populations, from whose lives he draws extensively in his stories. The blend of humor and Spanglish vernacular in his fiction has captured the largest readership of Latino youth in the nation. His books have been translated into five languages and sold nearly four million copies, with 48 million textbooks featuring his writings. He currently lives in Berkeley.
San Francisco Youth Theatre is directed by the show’s producer and composer, Emily Klion. Based at Brava Theater, SFYT’s ensembles are made up of performers from diverse backgrounds, including DREAMers. SFYT’s mission is to transform youth and communities through the performing arts. In and Out of Shadows has been touring throughout California since 2014 with support from the California Endowment’s Healthy Communities Initiative.
In and Out of Shadows was developed in 2012 Cliff Mayotte and “Voice of Witness” oral history program at Marsh Youth Theater, with support from the Creative Work Fund, NALAC (National Association of Latino Arts and Culture), Fresno Regional Foundation and The California Endowment.
Friday, Sept. 25, 9:30 a.m. at Bakersfield College, Simonsen Performing Arts Center, 1801 Panorama Drive, Bakersfield, CA 93305 – FREE; Free Parking
Saturday, September 26, 7 p.m. at Cal State Bakersfield, Doré Theatre, 9001 Stockdale Highway, Bakersfield, CA 93311 – $5; Students with ID FREE; Free Parking
For more information and press photos about In & Out of Shadows, visit San Francisco Youth Theatre website or call SFYT Director Emily Klion: 415-571-1234.
Supported by the Bakersfield College Office of Equity, Levan Center for the Humanities, CSUB School of Arts and Humanities, Public History Institute, The California Endowment and Building Healthy Communities-South Kern.