Caribbean immigration stage comedy playing this weekend

American dream: The cast of Aston Cooke’s “Single Entry,” [playing this weekend at the Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts Center. From left, actors Corey Grant, Carlene Taylor, Marsha-Ann Hay, Curt Hampstead, and Ronald Millwood.
Joel Edwards Photography

One way ticket west!

An award-winning comedic play tackling immigration is playing this weekend at the Milton G. Bassin Center starting Sept. 28. “Single Entry” follows two Jamaican women and their respective determination and journeys to successfully make it to the states. When Jamaican playwright Aston Cooke wrote the play a decade ago, he highlighted an issue of the time. But the subject still remains a topic of concern for many Caribbean immigrants trying to enter the U.S., and with the current political climate surrounding immigration — the story is more relevant than ever, said the show’s executive producer.

“The subject matter resonates with a lot of people and 10 years later, especially with all that’s going on with immigration and new visa policies,” said Andrew Clarke of Braata Productions.

“There’s a whole lot going on and the whole conversation now is whether we allow immigrants in the country and stringent visa rules.”

Even with the existing restrictions and struggles immigrants often come face to face with, Clarke said many immigrants remain hopeful and anxious to arrive, and will even risk living without documents to work in low-paying jobs.

“People are still eager to enter the United States,” said Clarke. “But they still struggle because when they overstay their visas, they usually end up working menial jobs and doing work that the average American doesn’t want.”

The funny two-hour play explores this topic from the perspective of two friends — Cherry and Sonia — and their unwavering effort to procure a single-entry visa. When they eventually earn the documents, the duo lands in New York but encounter a myriad of issues that immigrants struggle with, according to Clarke.

The gravity of the immigration subject is not to be taken lightly, especially with the Trump administration instilling hestiance and fear through tougher legislations for entry to the states — Clarke adds that comedy is the best solution to overcoming the struggle.

“Laughter is food for the soul and theater is therapeutic,” he said.

He relates being able to take a crack at issues that can come with life-altering consequences as a cultural defense mechanism, and praises Aston Cooke’s ability to make audiences laugh even with the serious issue.

“In Jamaican culture we have this proverb about using laughter to mask pain, and Aston has a lot of good intentions on doing that in the show,” said Clarke. “He has a comedic outlook on something really serious.”

The show’s director said the show was an eye-opening tale on the Caribbean immigrant experience, and not so much the political rhetoric that casts them as an unwelcome group.

“So much is being said about why America doesn’t want immigrants here, but few understand what they go through to get to the United States to begin with, merely following their desire to earn an honest living and live a life with more possibilities,” said Joyce Sylvester. “Single Entry” at York College Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts Center [94-95 Guy R. Brewer Blvd. between Liberty and Archer avenues in Jamaica, (718) 262-5375, www.braataproductions.org]. Sept. 28-29 at 8 pm; Sept. 30 at 6 pm. $20-25.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com. Follow her on Twitter @AS1mon.

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