No Roosters in the Desert, a play that follows the journey of four women crossing the blazing hot Arizona desert from Mexico in search of a new life in the U.S., is presented at Central Wyoming College March 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m.
Sponsored by CWC's Diversity Committee, Arts in Action and the Zócalo Arts Collective, the play was written by Kara Hartzler, an immigration attorney with a master's in playwriting. She based her characters on a composite of interviews with 130 migrant women.
The story follows the women as they cross the border and become lost in the desert. "The play delivers a powerful message of survival and perseverance and challenges audiences to evaluate their own views on immigration," said director Luis Guerrero. The cast is made up of bilingual Latina actors who bring a "depth of personal experience to their roles," he added.
The company is collaborating with students from CWC, Riverton, Wind River, Fort Washakie, and Wyoming Indian high schools to build scenic elements for the play. The students are asked to research the philosophical concept of borders and boundaries within the context of U.S. immigration history and interpret their findings artistically to produce four by eight foot collage panels prior to the production, said Guerrero, who will spend a week in the classroom guiding the creative process to completion.
Following each night's performance, as well as a matinee for high school students, the audience is invited to participate in a conversation with Guerrero, the cast and scholars. These talk-back sessions provide audiences with an opportunity to ask questions and share their stories about immigration.
"One of the primary goals of this project is to explore how storytelling can function as a bridge between cultures and spark community-wide conversations," Guerrero said.
When the show was performed in Jackson by the Riot Act Theatre Company in 2012, the post-show conversation included English and Spanish speakers. "We hope that what we experienced in Jackson with this play can be duplicated in other communities around Wyoming, Guerrero said.
The play is also being performed in Laramie April 4 and 5 as part of the Shepard Symposium. The tour is supported by the Wyoming Arts Council and the Wyoming Humanities Council.
Tickets are $5 and are available at the CWC Box Office.