Nationalistic rhetoric notwithstanding, the United States has always possessed a conflicted view of immigration, advertising a land of opportunity, but limited to those ethnicities deemed worthy of the dream. Even though our immigration history is marred by exclusionary policies and practices, scores of refugees did seek and find a new life on American shores. No period embodies our immigration legacy better than 1892 to 1954, a time span in which millions of newcomers arrived via Ellis Island. To explore the hopes and fears that compelled these immigrants to leave their homelands for the perilous journey to a strange new world, Theater Latte Da's artistic director, Peter Rothstein, has collaborated with celebrated writer and musician Dan Chouinard on the original musical Steerage Song. Much like Rothstein's last project for Theatre Latté Da, the revered holiday tale All Is Calm, Steerage Song uses period-specific music and textual artifacts in order to evocatively re-create the era. Boasting a first-rate cast of local singers and performers, the musical docudrama features lyrics in 15 different languages, each reflecting a unique contribution to our cultural melting pot. Though set in the past, Steerage Song carries an immediate relevance to the immigration arguments of today, serving as a poignant reminder that the symphony of America has always been a global composition. (Image courtesy of the New York Public Library)
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 5, 2 p.m. Starts: June 2. Continues through June 4, 2011
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