Borders, in Berkeley?
February 27, 2006, 02:24 PM
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Would it be possible to see a play about immigration in uber-lib Berkeley that does not bombard the theatre-goer with guilt trips about long-suffering Juan and his search for a better life in the cruel land of gringos?

As a matter of fact, yes. I expected the supporters of sovereignty to receive a thespian thrashing by the play Shadow Crossing and was pleasantly surprised. Is a smidge of sanity creeping into the People's Republic of Berkeley, known for its unceasing adoration for all things ethnic and anti-American? Perhaps.

The play weaves a crisis-of-conscience story about Martin, a gay photographer, his straight woman friend Emily who is a school teacher and an illegal alien named Rafael.

Martin believes America is unfriendly to gays and he is in the midst of emigrating to Canada when Mexican Rafael shows up at the studio to wash the windows. Emily is there having a photo made and is taken aback that Martin would thoughtlessly hire an obvious illegal. Their disagreement leads to her revelation that she is joining the Minutemen to help with the border watch. Martin is appalled that his friend could be part of activities he sees as very right wing.

Emily brings up the standard arguments against open borders — costs to citizens, depressed wages, etc. in about 10 seconds. Her character would have been more believable had her Minuteman motivation been laid down more strongly. But she is not depicted as an evil racist, which is what I expected in border-bashing Berkeley.

I could have done without the exclusively Mexican music before, at the break and after. There were a couple of scenes with now-deceased immigrants that were mostly pointless. But on the whole, the play was balanced and stimulated discussion.

One little play does not necessarily mean that a corner has been rounded. But on the way home, I felt that progress has been made if a non-toxic treatment of immigration can be seen in a bastion of extreme leftism.