Written by Elizabeth Ann Foster
“Shit’s complicated,” says Jarret (Dan Hoyle), summing up the entire play Border People at the onset. An understatement at best.
Dan Hoyle describes himself as practicing the journalism of hanging out. Preparing for his latest creation he has spent time in the projects of the South Bronx and at both the southern and northern borders of the United States just being with the locals. It all started with his son’s birthday, which was the day President Trump was elected. Hoyle took that as a motivational sign to get some answers. Border People gives the audience a cross sectional glimpse of the many borders people cross to enter the United States. Portraying 11 border people with which Hoyle has hung out and studied, he has woven a truly American mosaic of all sides of the country’s immigration policy and fallout.
We meet everyone from a border patrol officer, deported Mexicans, a rancher at the southern border, people in the South Bronx projects, to Muslims in resettlement camps on the Canadian border. This is accomplished in little over an hour. Hoyle seamlessly morphs into each character as we travel virtually to connect with each border person on their own turf and environment. Chilling truths are revealed and through it all one is amazed at the ability of the human spirit to transcend and not only survive but flourish despite adversity.
Hoyle is exhausting in the best way. The energy he expends to capture the essence of each border person is not quantifiable. Within seconds between monologues he has changed his demeanor, speech and overall persona to embody his next subject. He delivers a compelling portrayal that is well researched and perfected. Hoyle has had some of the people he portrays attend the performances, reenacting parts to others to ensure authenticity. There is one border person story spoken in his native Spanish – don’t worry there is an English translation on the screen.
The audience was diverse at the Working Theater keeping with their mission to produce “plays for and about working people.” The theater leadership believes many cannot afford commercial theaters and the content does not necessarily relate to their lives. They are workingto make theater a staple in cultural activities of the working masses. The Shubert Family and Broadway will not miss a ticket sale if you decide to spend your money on a more diverse thought-provoking venture. It becomes almost civic duty to enter the dialogue and meet border people for yourself .
How can someone who has served as a U.S. Marine be deported? Why does a grown man have to stress over his clothing choices and constantly defend them as he is threatened? How can a Muslim not be religious enough in his country of origin and too Muslim in the U.S.?
These and many other questions arise throughout the monologues. None are answered. There simply is not a single answer to any of these. Shit’s complicated.
Border People – Written & Performed by Dan Hoyle.
With – Dan Hoyle (Lopez, Jarret, Hani, Mike Evans, Tiffany, Gareth, Jaoquin, Jawid, Larry, Noe, Zainab).
Directed by Nicole A. Watson; Co-developer Charlie Varon; Scenic design Frank Oliva; Lighting design Jimmy Lawlor; Sound design Jorge Olivo; Video design Yana Birykova; Production Stage Manager Kara Kaufman; Producing Artistic Director Mark Plesant.
At Working Theater 502 West 53rd St NY, NY 10018 at 8th Avenue . 212-244-3300. Tickets are $30 – $40 (discounts for students, seniors, union members and groups up to 30% off) and are on sale now at www.theworkingtheater.org. Previews January 25, prior to an official opening on February 3, with performances on Wednesday through Saturday at 7 pm and Sunday at 2 pm. A special student matinee will be held January 28 at 11 am Running time: 75 minutes.