Cincinnati: City of Immigrants Debuts at LULAC Conference

LULAC City of ImmigrantsOn June 28th, over 250 people from all over Cincinnati and all over the country packed the Harriet Tubman theatre for the 45-minute performance of Cincinnati: City of Immigrants. The League of United Latin American Citizens conference hosted the debut performance of  the new play produced by ArtsWave and the Cincinnati Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. 

 Written by critically-acclaimed local playwright Joe McDonough, City of Immigrants follows the story of six fictional characters representing the six major waves of ethnic immigrants to Cincinnati over the past 180 years: German, Irish, African-American, Jewish, Appalachian, and Hispanic.  A series of over-lapping monologues weaves together their common experiences-- meeting new people, encountering discrimination, overcoming adversity, and bringing parts of their culture to a new home.

Six local actors, dressed in costumes from six different periods in history, told their stories directly to the audience using just a handful of props and a few chairs.  Some moments were funny, some poignant as each character found their place in their new home.  At times, the actors spoke in unison, repeating feelings they all shared throughout the decades.  The audience was riveted throughout the performance and rose to their feet at the end.

In the post-show discussion, led by local historian Dan Hurley, audience members from all over the country expressed their appreciation for the play and its themes.  Several conference attendees noted that building awareness of the history of immigration in our communities was vital to developing better relationships between ethnic groups. One woman remarked how each of the character’s stories reached a turning point when they encountered someone who treated them with kindness and compassion, a model she hoped everyone could embrace in connecting with the immigrant community--“We need to go beyond tolerance to kindness.” 

You can join in the conversation by attending one of four FREE public performances in the next two weeks, beginning this Friday, July 8th at the Fairfield Community Arts Center at 7 p.m. - call 513-867-5348 to reserve tickets for the Fairfield performance.Each show concludes with an audience discussion.  Check out other times and days for additional performances.