The Immigrants’ Theatre Project presents fully staged productions, readings, workshops and performances—mostly in educational institutions—by and about immigrants to the U.S. Since its founding in 1988 the organization has presented over 250 such plays, working with professional immigrant and native-born artists from over 70 countries and ethnic groups.
The project seeks to demonstrate the universality of the American experience, promote intercultural understanding and develop a new genre known as immigrant theater. Themes include cultural assimilation, generational change, intercultural relationships, realities of life in a new land, questions of identity and the reexamination of rationales for leaving the old country.
Representative works performed include Vijai Nathan’s Boy Meets Girl, about a strict Hindu household trying to fit into a Jewish neighborhood; Little Pitfall by Markéta Bláhova, about dysfunctional families in the new Czech democracy; Julio Alexi Genao’s The Happiness Proxy, a whimsical look at the often-bizarre lengths to which two women of color go to attain their peculiar brands of American happiness; <i>First Language</i> by Novid Parsi, which explores sexual identity, women’s roles and intercultural love within the American-Iranian community; Low Lives by Michael Angel Johnson, about young women from Ireland and China as they battle gangs and corruption; and Rosa Loses Her Face by Kitty Chen, in which a first-generation Chinese woman and her mother debate the daughter’s future over airborne Peking duck.
The project also presents workshops in public schools, libraries and universities. The Immigrants’ Theatre Project, it might be noted, has worked with many notable artists who have gone on to win awards for their work in U.S. television, film and theater.
The project also offers a program of teacher development that focuses on using theater in the classroom. Moreover, it collaborates with other theater companies, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, foreign cultural centers and theatrical institutes, public libraries and universities in order to take its programs to New York immigrant communities.