You Must Go and Tell My Story
Read Tony’s account of his experience with art meeting life.
“I was in Durango. We were presenting the first staged reading of Enrique’s Journey sponsored by Ft. Lewis College.
As I always do, I was pushing to get the college to hook me in to the local Latino community.
After an afternoon rehearsal, my local partners dropped me off at a building and sent me to the second floor, to an ESL class. The teachers there were excited to see me and they let me talk to the classes.
In Spanish, I told them about the show and told them I wanted them to get involved.
At minimum, I wanted them to come and I would make sure that they had tickets. I also suggested that they could audition or maybe get us into contact with people who could give us insight into the experience of making this dangerous and challenging trek into the U.S. by riding on the tops of trains.
I told the students some of the story lines and at one point I was relating a specific experience: migrants on the trains had been so used to being abused by the locals that when they saw a group of women and children running toward them, they assumed that they were going to pelt them with rocks.
I asked if anyone knew what the locals were throwing.
A young woman raised her hand and answered, “ Si, eran Milagros.” They were miracles. She continued, “I know because this is my story.”
She proceeded to explain to us that she was from Nicaragua, and she had ridden the tops of the trains.
She recounted to us the abuse and the horrible experiences that she had on that trip. She was now in the US and married to a “good man,” she said. But it was clear from the tears in the class that many of the scars remained, for her and for her classmates.
The woman’s name was Jemilet.
I asked her to come to our rehearsal and I hired her as a consultant. Since the college could not pay someone who did not have proper documentation, I paid her out of my fee.
She came and spoke to the students and they also cried. She told our actors, “you have to work hard and do a good job, because I am relying on you to tell our story.”