By: Haleema Hafeez
When it comes to immigration and prejudice, perhaps history can in fact repeat itself. That seems to be the case with the school’s latest production A View from the Bridge, which ran from November 2 – 5 at the Joseph Papp Theatre.
The play depicts the lives of undocumented Italian immigrants living in 1950’s Red Hook, Brooklyn. They live in fear of being caught and deported while coming to the United States to support their families.
Eddie Carbone (played by Julian Lieber) and his wife Beatrice (played Sarah Rodriguez) are legal guardians of their niece Catherine (played by Lylia Khazoula). Catherine falls in love with an undocumented Italian immigrant Rodolpho (played by Walker Ames), who is hiding in their home.
Rodolpho comes to the United States with his cousin Marco in hopes of finding work and being able to survive. Ames said he recognized the reality undocumented immigrants face in the United States.
“Currently, illegal immigrants come into the country with the same desire as Rodolpho,” Ames said. “They want to make a better living for themselves and their families. A View from the Bridge is a play that challenges fundamentals that we normally don’t think about, let alone act upon. The show is a difficult play and its intent was to challenge the actors playing the characters as well as to challenge the audience’s views from what right or wrong.”
Daniel Puig, who played Marco another undocumented Italian immigrant looking for work in order to support his family, said that the show teaches one to be careful with who they trust.
“In the play, Marco and Rodolpho took a huge risk by coming to America and living in a stranger’s home,” the junior said. “Being Marco has opened my eyes to the real world, and the fear of deportation so many illegal immigrants share because of Trump.”
Audience members like Anna Moore said A View from the Bridge made a connection to today’s era in regards to how repetitive society still is.
“It’s interesting that at such a time where immigrants are a hot topic we learn that it has been an ongoing issue,” Moore said. “We got to see the comparison of immigrants from the 1950’s to the immigrants today.”
Director Ms. Roberta Raymond said she wanted the play to depict the meaning of community as well as allowing audience members to recognize their own feelings towards immigrants.
“I wanted the message of building a strong community and the problems that immigrants face to be sent out,” Ms. Raymond said. “I wanted people to really look at what is going on in the world and to look at their own feelings towards immigrants.”
One of those challenges is how the play takes a turn of events when the audience finds out that Eddie is insanely in love with his niece Catherine.
Rodriguez, who played the lead role as Beatrice, said she had to let go of her control on stage and put herself in her character’s shoes.
“One of the most challenging aspects of playing Beatrice was letting go of control,” Rodriguez said. “She deals with a lot of internal conflict throughout scenes which held a lot of meaning in the underlying text.”
Ms. Raymond also said that the most difficult aspect to overcome were for the young actors to take on such mature and serious roles.
“The toughest part was having young actors embody the subtleties that were present in these adult characters emotionally and physically,” she said.
Teslyne Junior, who plays Alfieri the immigration lawyer who assists Eddie with his legal as well as mental struggles, said that the play shows that there is a wrong image of immigrants.
“Each and every immigrant is coming here for a better life. Period,” the theater student said. “The show has taught me that people are willing to give up everything they know and love to just find work or opportunities in a place they are unfamiliar with. This goes to show how indispensable moving to America is for them and their families which is something we all should think about.”
A View from the Bridge managed to show the history of Brooklyn and its attitude to arriving immigrants while providing its audience members with a realistic comparison to today’s society and immigrants.
“We look at gentrified neighborhoods and forget that they have histories,” Ms. Raymond said. “Those histories are filled with people’s struggles. A View from the Bridge is a true story told to Arthur Miller who was so disturbed by it that he felt compelled to write about it.”