Exiles set for Artists Rep - Theatre News - Theatre In Portland
Theatre In Portland
Your Source For What's On Stage In Portland 

   Quick Search
Search by date:


Theatre News Wire

Exiles set for Artists Rep
Sep 10, 2014

ExilesArtists Rep will present the NW premiere of Exiles by famed film, theatre and television actor Carlos Lacamara. Artists Rep's Artistic Director Damaso Rodriguez, who is Cuban-American, will direct the first major production of Exiles since its critically acclaimed premiere in Los Angeles.

"While Exiles is a powerfully insightful view of the Cuban exile experience two decades into Castro's reign," said Damaso Rodriguez at the first rehearsal, "I believe the play resonates with a myriad of countries and displaced cultural groups, across generations. Details of time and place aside, Exiles is a story about the consequences of leaving one's home and the endless yearning for a land and era that sadly, and ironically, ceases to exist the moment one leaves it behind."

When a storm leaves their tiny vessel helplessly adrift at sea, tension escalates as six Cuban refugees find themselves in a desperate battle against the elements, each other and their past. Set during the 1980 Mariel Boatlift when Fidel Castro allowed Cuban-Americans to bring family members by boat to America, but only if they took "undesirables" with them, this new play from a Cuban-born playwright sheds light on a rarely told, but fascinating story in American history.

In the Spring of 1980, Cubans faced a myriad of economic and political tensions. On April 1, Hector Sanyustiz and four others drove a bus through a fence at the Peruvian embassy under fire and were granted political asylum. The Peruvian government refused to return these five Cubans, and by April 6 some 10,000 Cubans had flooded the Peruvian embassy requesting asylum. Other embassies in Cuba, including those of Spain and Costa Rica, agreed to take a small number of people.

On April 20, 1980, two weeks later, the Mariel Boatlift begins when Castro announces that all Cubans wishing to emigrate to the U.S. are free to board boats at the port of Mariel, west of Havana, as long as they had someone to pick them up. Cuban exiles in the United States rushed to hire boats in Miami and Key West and rescue their relatives. By the next day, the first of the 125,000 Cuban refugees, in roughly 17,000 boats, reached Florida. It was later recognized that Castro had released "undesirables" from Cuban jails and mental health facilities to be forcibly included on these fleeing boats.

The Mariel Boatlift was ended by mutual agreement between the U.S. and Cuban governments in October 1980.

Carlos Lacamara, playwright, provides these thoughts about Exiles: "My parents brought my sister and me to the United States when I was 2 years old. I grew up listening to them praise their new country, while lamenting the life they left behind. It took me many years to appreciate how much their escape from Cuba had torn them in two. In Exiles, I explore a dilemma common to all displaced people: They might find sanctuary, but they will never find home. Exiles live their lives adrift between the world they fled and the country that's taken them in, not just because they can't fit into their new environment but because they cannot escape the demons of their past."