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International Play Festival Tackles Immigration

Mar 25, 2008

The topical issue of immigration will be the focus of Ohio Northern University's sixth annual International Play Festival in the Freed Center for the Performing Arts from April 2-5 at 8 p.m. Matinee performances also are scheduled from April 5-6 at 2 p.m.

ONU has commissioned of two playwrights from both sides of the border, Berta Hiriat from Mexico and Elaine Romero from Tucson, Ariz., to tackle the issues surrounding the controversial subject. It will be the world premiere of the two plays, which were specifically developed for the play festival as part of ONU's contribution not only to United States, but to the international theatre community on this important and widely discussed topic.

"Every year, ONU's International Play Festival brings the wider world and its multitude of cultural perspectives to our students and community in Northwest Ohio, while simultaneously supporting new works from the world stage, so often overlooked in the American theatre," said Joan Robbins, Freed Center dramaturge. "I can't think of worthier educational and cultural causes."

Hiriat's "On the Border" and Romero's "Undocumented" each feature a medley of characters and vastly different viewpoints. The stories revolve around an unpoliticized Latina school principal, minutemen, a Mexican-American citizen who hires undocumented workers, the workers themselves and the various dreams concerning living in the U.S.

An award-winning playwright, Romero's most recent commissions are with the Kennedy Center and Alley Theatre. Her plays have been presented at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Magic Theatre, New Theatre and Arizona Theatre Company, among others. Romero's plays have been widely published, most notably by Samuel French, Smith and Kraus, and Vintage Books. Romero's work for television has been seen on CBS, NBC and ABC.

Hiriart has worked in theater, radio, journalism and literature, and has coordinated creative workshops. She received the National Award for Published Work in 1994 for the novel "Feliz año nuevo (Happy New Year)." Her play "Adiós, querido Cuco (Good-bye, Dear Cuco)" received the National Award for Children's Theatrical Production in 2004, and "Cartas a una joven dramaturga (Letters to a Young Female Playwright)" received the Award for Theatrical Essay in 2005 (from National Center for Research in Theater Rodolfo Usigli and "Paso de Gato" magazine).

In addition to bringing in guest playwrights with professional and personal insight, ONU also has recruited a professional director and actor, Angel David, and two international actors, Eden Coronado and Marciela Ochoa, to help authenticate the works of the playwrights. The choice to bring in the professional director and actors furthers the cross-border collaborations, authenticates the ethnic characters of the project and provides ONU students with additional educational opportunities.

David, who in addition to directing the two plays is spending a quarter at ONU teaching acting, has numerous acting and directing credits. As a director, Angel's credits include "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" (two Raymond Carver short stories adapted for the stage) at Tribeca Labs, "Rum and Coke" by Carmen Palaez at the HBO Showcase Theater in Los Angeles, "El Salvador" by Rafael Lima at the Shurin Theater, "Death in the Mind" by Raul Castillo at the Cherry Lane Alternative, "Cuchifrito" by Eduardo Andino at INTAR Theater, "Memories of Our Women" by Arthur Giron at Schaeberle Studio Theater/Pace University, and "The Origins of Happiness" by Felix Pire at Urban Stages.

As an actor, Angel can be seen in many films and television shows including "G.I. Jane," "The Crow," "City Hall," "One Life to Live," "Guiding Light," "Rescue Me" and every version of "Law and Order."

Coronado's professional debut was in 1995 with the play "Pescar Águilas," and he is one of the founders of the Theater Company El Rinoceronte Enamorado.

Ochoa recently performed at the Goodman Theatre as Adria & Lourdes in Edwardo Machado's play "The Cook." Ochoa has also appeared in several motion pictures and television shows.

Tickets for the International Play Festival are $15 for general admission, $12 for seniors and $9 for children. Tickets for ONU faculty and staff are $12. For ONU students, tickets are $5.The Freed Center box office is open Monday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Phone orders are accepted with MasterCard, VISA or Discover by calling (419) 772-1900.