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On Sept. 20, students in the first-year seminar ETHN 0090A: "The Border/La Frontera" got a closer look at the impact of the border issues they study in class. They attended the play "La Casa Rosa" — performed by Soame Citlalime, a group of 30 women from San Francisco Tetlanohcan, Mexico — on Yale's campus.

The production portrays the challenges faced by communities impacted by free trade and migration, as the performers tell their stories of how migration to the United States has affected their remaining community at home.

Saudi Garcia '14, a student in the class, said the actors did "a fantastic job of conveying their story." The experience of those who remain behind while family members emigrate "has not been told as much as it should be," she said.

The play tells the story of two sisters attempting to gain control of their ancestral land, and the script is directly based on the struggles of the actors themselves. According to the production's website, the group's objective is "to use theater to bring awareness to the stories of families and communities affected by globalization in order to empower the people and help them understand the opportunities that exist in their country for development."

According to Daniel Carlton, a playwright who collaborated with Soame Citlalime to compose the piece, the group directly encountered the border conflicts portrayed in their play when they were initially denied visas to perform in the United States. In March, they presented invitations to perform and evidence of the project to the U.S. embassy in Mexico City, but their visa applications were denied with no explanation, according to a press release.

The production's sponsoring organizations were determined to fight this verdict, so instead of cancelling the scheduled performances, they played a documentary about the group's work and the visa conflict and observed a moment of silence for the actors' absence. The group's visa application was finally approved July 1 with support from New Haven Mayor John Destefano and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., according to the press release.

The women who make up Soame Citlalime are part of the Migrant Family Support Center, which addresses the causes of unjust immigration policies and their negative effects on families by the promotion of art and culture.

Carlton describes the play as a "community-based form of storytelling." He said the story conveys an "important and often untold side of the international experience."


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