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Immigrants’ true stories bring home impact of mass deportations
in world premiere docudrama ‘Detained’ at Fountain Theatre
LOS ANGELES (REVISED March 1, 2022) — How do families stay together, even when they are kept apart? The Fountain Theatre presents a gripping new docudrama, a compilation of true stories
Originally commissioned by Rabinovitz, special counsel for the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, Detained is based on interviews with longtime U.S. residents held in immigration detention, and with their family members, advocates, attorneys and representatives of ICE. Inspired by their stories, Detained explores how families fight to stay together as increasingly cruel U.S. immigration legislation keeps them apart through mass deportations and immigration detention centers. It offers a heart-wrenching and in-depth look at the human lives behind the policies, and celebrates the strength and determination of the ordinary people who must fight against an unjust system while keeping their hope and faith in humanity intact.
“All of the stories in this play are true, and they are heartbreaking,” says Benson. “The more people I met, the more time I spent with them, the more important it became to tell their stories. When you go through trauma, you want to be seen, to be given a voice. My own family immigrated to America in the 1970s, and my father received a humanitarian award for the work he did at Krome Detention Center in the ’80s and ’90s. This is his story too, and a way for me to honor the sacrifices he made for us.”
When Rabinovitz first approached Benson, Obama was still in office. Under his administration, more people were being deported than ever before. Since then, with harsher immigration legislation enacted under Trump and the current Covid-19 health crisis, the situation for many immigrants has become ever more dire. As more stories of injustice persist and legislation changes, so does the play.
“This play is a living document, and I’m constantly updating it,” Benson says. “People think that now that Biden is president, things are better. But thousands of people are still facing deportation every day. Many of these people have been living in this country for decades. They own houses, run businesses, pay taxes, have families.”
Characters in the play include a teenage foodie aspiring “chef-lebrity,” a U.S. Veteran, and a mother of two who works as a roofer in New York City. Together, their collective voices weave a compelling and complicated tapestry.
Ensemble members, who play a range of roles, include Liana Aráuz,Camila Ascencio, Christine Avila, Will Dixon, Jan Munroe, Theo Perkins, Marlo Su and Michael Uribes. The creative team includes scenic designer Sarah Krainin; lighting designer Christian V. Mejia; composer and sound designer Marc Antonio Pritchett; media designer Matt Soson; and costume designer Jeanette Godoy. Movement choreography is by Annie Yee. The production stage manager is Anna Kupershmidt. Stephen Sachs, Simon Levy and James Bennett produce for the Fountain Theatre. Producing underwriters include the Phillips–Gerla Family and Donald and Suzanne Zachary. Executive producers are Miles Benickes and Diana Buckhantz.
Detained was developed, with a generous grant from the Miranda Family Foundation, at Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York under artistic director Billy Carden.
France-Luce Benson is a Haitian-American playwright and television writer whose work has been described as “epic, sensual, and featuring nuanced representations of under-represented communities across the Afro-Diaspora.” Named “Someone to Watch” by American Theatre magazine, she is the 2021 winner of the Lily’s Lorraine Hansberry Award, and was just awarded a new play commission from Atlantic Theatre Company in New York, supported by an NYSCA Individual Artist Award. Additional honors include Sony Pictures Television Diverse Writers Fellow; Zoetrope Grand Prize for her screenplay Caroline’s Wedding; Miranda Family Foundation grant recipient for Detained; Alfred P. Sloan New Play Commission for The Devil’s Salt; Princess Grace Award runner up for Boat People; Dramatists Guild Fellow 2016-17; Sam French OOB Festival Winner; NNPN Award for Risen from the Dough; and her play Talking Peace topped the list of most impactful plays in the “Together L.A.: ATLA 2020 Virtual Theatre Festival.”
Judy Rabinovitz is special counsel for the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project where she has worked since 1988 litigating class action and impact cases on a variety of issues affecting the rights of immigrants. She is nationally recognized for her leadership in challenging immigration detention policies and practices, including the mandatory detention statute enacted by Congress as part of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA). She coordinated a national litigation campaign to challenge that statute, culminating in Demore v. Kim, which she argued before the Supreme Court in 2003. Detained grew out of her desire to tell the stories of some of the countless people who have been subjected to detention and deportation as a result of the harsh 1996 laws and our deportation policies more generally. In 2019 she began challenging the Trump Administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, under which asylum seekers are returned to Mexico and forced to wait there in dangerous conditions until their asylum proceedings conclude. Although terminated by Biden, the policy continues to this day because a Texas judge held the termination illegal. Rabinovitz has twice received the Jack Wasserman Memorial Award for Excellence in Litigation from the American Immigration Lawyers Association; in 2006, she received the Carol King Award from the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. For the past 25 years she has served as an adjunct assistant professor of law at NYU Law School.
Mark Valdez is an itinerant artist, cultural organizer and consultant who partners with communities, organizations, civic institutions and others, using theater and creative tools to address community needs and to lift up community voices and stories. His work has been seen at the Alliance Theatre, Cornerstone Theater Company, East West Players, Garry Marshall Theater, La Peña Cultural Center, Mixed Blood, Ricardo Montalban Theater/CTG and Trinity Rep, among others. Recent projects include The Most Beautiful Home…Maybe, currently touring the US, and the animated short, The Curious Cardinal. Mark is the recipient of various grants and awards including a Legacy Artist Fellowship from the California Arts Council, the 2019 Johnson Fellowship for Artists Transforming Communities and the 2021 Zelda Fichandler Award from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation. He is a board member of Double Edge Theatre and Cornerstone Theater, and a former board member for Theater Communications Group.
Founded in 1990 by artistic director Stephen Sachs and Deborah Culver, the Fountain Theatre has won hundreds of awards for all areas of production, performance and design, and provides an essential voice for the citizens of Los Angeles. Dedicated to community, the Fountain produces outstanding theater that challenges thinking and shines an artistic light on the many under-represented voices and cultures within Los Angeles. Eric Garcetti joined with the Los Angeles City Council to commend the Fountain for “achieving a position of leadership in the Los Angeles theatre community… producing meaningful new plays of social and political importance that enrich the lives of the citizens of Los Angeles.” In recognition of providing outstanding productions of meaningful new plays and first-class performances spanning three decades, the Fountain Theatre was honored with the 2020 Margaret Harford Award for sustained excellence in theater, presented by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle. In a 2021 end-of-year retrospective, Los Angeles Times theater critic Charles McNulty called the Fountain “L.A.’s most enterprising intimate theater [that] continues to punch far above its weight… No L.A. theater has done a better job of asking us to reexamine our lives through the lens of acute contemporary drama this year than the Fountain.”
Performances of Detained continue through April 10 on Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.; and Mondays at 8 p.m. Three preview performances will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 16; Thursday, Feb. 17; and Friday, Feb. 18, all at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $25–$45; Pay-What-You-Want seating is available every Monday night in addition to regular seating (subject to availability). The Fountain Theatre is located at 5060 Fountain Avenue (at Normandie) in Los Angeles. Secure, on-site parking is available for $5. The Fountain Theatre is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. Patrons are invited to relax before and after the show at the Fountain’s indoor/outdoor café. Proof of booster vaccination will be required for admission. Masks, covering both mouth and nose, must be worn throughout the performance.
For reservations and information, call (323) 663-1525 or go to www.FountainTheatre.com.
Details for Calendar Listings
How do families stay together, even when they’re kept apart? The Fountain Theatre presents Detained, a gripping new docudrama based on interviews with longtime U.S. residents held in immigration detention, and with their family members, advocates, attorneys and representatives of ICE. This compilation of true stories weaves a compelling and complicated tapestry that emphasizes the impact immigration detention has on families. Characters include a teenage foodie aspiring “chef-lebrity,” a U.S. Veteran, and a mother of two who works as a roofer in New York City.
• Written by France-Luce Benson
• Conceived and co-Created by Judy Rabinovitz
• Directed by Mark Valdez
• The Ensemble: Liana Aráuz, Camila Ascencio, Christine Avila, Will Dixon, Jan Munroe, Theo Perkins, Marlo Su, Michael Uribes
• Presented by The Fountain Theatre
Performances continue through April 10:
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: March 4 ONLY
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: March 5, 12, 19, 26; April 2, 9
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: March 6, 13, 20, 27; April 3, 10
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: March 7, 14, 21, 28; April 4 (dark Feb. 21)
The Fountain Theatre
5060 Fountain Ave.
Los Angeles CA 90029
(Fountain at Normandie)
• $25 – $45
• Pay-What-You-Want seating is available every Monday night in addition to regular seating (subject to availability).
Secure, on-site parking: $5
• Proof of booster vaccination required for admission.
• Masks, covering both mouth and nose, must be worn throughout the performance.