Newest Americans: SBP Play Delves Into Modern Immigrant Experience


Rodney Fequire

Adrian Vasquez UDI and other tech crew members of the SBP Drama Guild making some final touches to the set of the upcoming play.

Malcolm James, Staff Writer

The Drama Guild will be performing a play from Nov. 21 to Nov. 24, written by St. Benedict’s students, to celebrate immigrants who are the families of the St. Benedict’s Prep community. This play is the second in the Drama Guild’s history to be written by students.

The director of the Drama Guild, Ms. Patricia Flynn H’95, has wanted to work on the play since May 2019. 

“The events and attitudes surrounding immigration in this country are what served as a catalyst for my idea,” Ms. Flynn said. “Caging people, and labeling all and sundry as criminals and terrorists out to ruin our country, is a reprehensible response to the crises driving people to leave all they know, to come here.” Ms. Flynn intends for the play to teach “students and the audience that theater is not solely created to entertain.”

The student playwrights’ writing process began with interviews of other students who told their families’ histories. The process began with setting an interview time. Interview questions included “What was life like back at home?” and “Why did you come?”

 Playwright Angel Bustillo SY said that “the first person I interviewed was very willing and I thought other people would be like that as well. Gee willikers, I was wrong. I quickly realized that a lot of people weren’t willing. I had to pry a lot more than I thought I needed to.”

During these interviews, Angel initially felt uncomfortable asking questions of strangers, but, as the interviewees continued to tell their stories, Angel became more comfortable asking questions and invested in the story. These interviews were transcribed, allowing Drama Guild members to create a script. The script is structured by age, reasons for escaping, positives, and negatives, and accompanied by traditional songs and dances from each story’s setting.

The most difficult part about the interviewing process, according to Ms. Flynn, is “the reluctance of people to come forward and share their stories, even with the assurance of anonymity.” She added: “I attribute this reluctance, to a sense, on the part of people that their story is not significant or of value, and, to the atmosphere of fear and threat that pervades the society currently.”

Despite the difficulties, Angel said that he was glad to participate. “I personally don’t mind setting up interviews and typing them out, fixing, and writing the scripts,” he said. “To me, when a person thinks about something, he starts to want to understand it more, in a way. And a lot of people are complaining about the immigration, but no one stopped to think about why people are coming. Whether it’s because of a dictator, gang violence, or just extreme poverty, this play kind of just shows the other side of the story.”

Showtimes are from Thursday, Nov. 21, to Saturday, Nov. 23 at 7:00 p.m and Sunday, Nov. 24 at 2:00 p.m.