Caribbean theater tackles immigration with comedic drama

The Braata Folk Singers.

According to thousands of prospective immigrants from eight countries, targeted by the current administration with a travel ban there’s nothing funny about the state of United States immigration policy.

However, the Braata Theater Company thinks otherwise and will prove the point this weekend in Queens with showcases of “Single Entry.”

The title suggests one travel passage and for visa applicants to America it also signifies a one-time privilege approved by an embassy official with compliance from the State Department of the United States.

While there are millions of testimonials about the process of entering the United States, this production chronicles the experiences of Sonia and Cherry, two unemployed Jamaicans willing to better their lot by traveling to America.

For them, the application process seems overwhelming.

After many rejections from decision makers at the US Embassy eventually the streak ends when they are granted permission.

Convinced of the saying “where there is a will there is a way,” the enterprising women set their sights on making the most of travelling on passports alerting officials to a page clearly stamped “Single Entry.”

Aston Cooke penned the presentation a decade ago.

Although still relevant in 2018, he said the pair of working class Jamaican women represents the ambitions of many people “who are determined to leave their modest living in the Caribbean and once obtaining their single-entry visas make the United States their permanent home, no matter the challenges they face.”

The drama begins on arrival to New York.

Here is where the comedy also begins.

To the new arrivals, the experience was more than they bargained for. As a matter of fact, the two might as well have landed on another planet.

“Once arriving in New York, the comedic adventure continues, when they are faced with challenge after challenge to adjust to their new country, way of life, and all that entails, while staying true to themselves,” Andrew Clarke, artistic director of Braata said.

Aspects of the production will resonate with Caribbean audiences who will relate to the nostalgia of a first time visit to a country fraught with bureaucracy, protocol and norms foreign to nationals whose lives may have been uncomplicated, simple with the worst disruptions being unpredictable hurricanes.

However, Jamaicans are known to “make bad things turn joke” and Cooke’s pen inks serious reality with sobering humor to provide thought-provoking entertainment to the two-hour experience.

“With all the arguments regarding immigration in our country in the times we are living in, we felt it important to shine light on the immigrant reality in this whole conversation. 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,” Joyce Sylvester, director said.

Braata, a Caribbean performing arts and education organization is dedicated to showcasing Caribbean culture, history, lifestyle, traditions and customs, through folk music, arts and theatre.

“We think both the venue and the community are perfect for ‘Single Entry’ to be enjoyed to the fullest and are really looking forward to the experience and the feedback from patrons who attend, as with the first showing in Jamaica years ago, we expect opinions to be strong on the issues raised and the laughter to be equal to that,” Clarke, the executive producer said.

He claims that although the comedic drama focuses on two Jamaican women, the storyline has universal appeal that will spotlight some of the perceptions and hurdles immigrants face when moving from any country to settle in America.

He explained that some are misperceived and that objectors to immigrants’ rights and enforcers from Homeland Security might benefit from seeing the rarely visited aspects to migration.

Slated for the Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts center at York College from Sept. 28-30, the Braata production promises adventure and a little extra from a cast featuring Carlene Taylor, Marsha-Ann Hay, Ronald Millwood, Curt Hampstead and Corey Grant.

The theater is located at Guy Brewer Blvd., 94-45 Guy R Brewer Blvd.

Three performances beginning on Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 8pm, with a final showcase on Sunday, at 6pm offer discounted tickets to seniors and students.

For more information, log onto www.braataproductions.org,

Jason Johnson Photography

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