--Tells Story of Guatemalan Teen Who Sought U.S. Asylum to Escape Gang Violence and Was Deported and Murdered Upon His Return; Panel Discussions to Follow Each Performance--
FLUSHING, NY, March 28, 2013—The immigration case of Edgar Chocoy and its tragic outcome brought about an international outcry from human rights activists and a fundamental reconsideration about the way we treat children in immigration custody. At the age of 14, Chocoy chose to leave the only family he had ever known, the gang Mara Salvatrucha. He fled Guatemala and came in search of his mother and a better life in the United States. “If I go back to Guatemala, the gang will kill me,” he testified before a Denver immigration judge, but Chocoy’s asylum request was denied and he was deported to Guatemala, where he was murdered 17 days after his return. News of his death resonated in the United States where it was covered by the Los Angeles Times: http://articles.latimes.com/2004/may/09/news/adfg-deport9.
From April 11 to 20, the Kupferberg Center for the Arts, in partnership with the Houses on the Moon Theater Company, will present De Novo, a documentary theater production about Chocoy’s struggle. The work is crafted entirely from immigration court transcripts, interviews and letters from his case. The 2010 Off Broadway production was praised by Show Business Weekly as “riveting…with superb acting and directing” and as an “urgent, timely docudrama” by NY Theatre.com
De Novo—a legal term meaning “to begin anew”—will be presented in English and Spanish at Long Island City High School and the Elmhurst Hospital Center to the public and students from grades six through 12. All performances at Elmhurst Hospital Center are being supported by the Office of NYC Councilmember Daniel Dromm. The production is augmented with the harrowing images of award-winning photojournalist Donna Decesare, widely known for her coverage of gangs in Central America and Los Angeles. Panel discussions with experts in child migration and human rights abuses will follow each performance, and resource materials for undocumented immigrants and literature on anti-gang violence will be made available to audience members.
Performances are free, but reservations are required and may be made by calling the Kupferberg Center Box Office at (718) 793-8080 12 - 6 pm daily. The performance schedule is as follows:
Long Island City High School, 14-30 Broadway, Queens, New York
Friday, April 12, public performance at 6:45 pm. Aryah Somers, children’s attorney and children’s rights activist, will participate in the post-performance discussion.
Elmhurst Hospital Center, 79-01 Broadway, (Room A1-22), Queens, New York
Thursday, April 18, public performance at 7 pm. Panel participants include City Council Member Daniel Dromm; Katharine Russell, Esq., pro-bono coordinator (NY), Kids in Need of Defense (KIND); and Brandon Hexom, M.D., from the Libertas Center for Human Rights, which deals with refugees and victims of torture and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Friday, April 19, public performance at 7 pm (in Spanish); Attorney Katharine Russell (see above) will participate again in the discussion.
Saturday, April 20, public performance at 7 pm. Attorney Morgan Alen, Pro Bono Coordinator (Newark), Kids in Need of Defense, and social worker Walter Fendrich of Libertas, will take part in the discussion.
City Council Member Daniel Dromm and the City University of New York Law School student government are sponsors of the Elmhurst Hospital presentations. Co-sponsors for both the LIC High School and Elmhurst Hospital events include Make the Road New York; New York Immigration Coalition; the Queens College Latin American and Latino Studies Program, and the American Friends Service Committee.
The Houses on the Moon Theater Company
, co-directed by Jeffrey Solomon and Emily Weiner, seeks to dispel ignorance and bring communities together by using theater to give voice to those who are not heard, performing their otherwise untold stories. Through original productions, post-show discussions and pre-and post- performance issue-based workshops, Houses on the Moon provides communities with an educational tool to help interpret the complex issues of our time.
Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY), founded in 1937, is dedicated to the idea that a first-rate education should be accessible to talented individuals of all backgrounds and financial means. Its more than 20,000 students come from over 170 nations and speak scores of languages, creating an extraordinarily diverse and welcoming environment. Located on a beautiful, 77-acre campus in Flushing, Queens College enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. Each year Queens College has been cited by The Princeton Review as one of the nation’s 100 “Best Value” colleges, thanks to its outstanding academics, generous financial aid packages, and relatively low costs. This year Princeton Review’s The Best 377 Colleges ranked the college fourth in the nation for “Lots of Race/Class Interaction.” The college opened its first residence hall in August 2009. More info on Queens College at www.qc.cuny.edu.