In the 1950’s, when my parents were young children, they escaped the aftermath of the Holocaust and World War II, arriving with their families to Israel by boat. Enduring strict border patrol agents in Europe and stormy seas, they made it to a country that was itself struggling. Back then, Israel wasn’t the innovative force it is today, with its cutting-edge breakthroughs in fields such as technology and medicine; it was a difficult place to live and my grandparents were faced with many challenges while trying to make a new life in a foreign country. The show Cartography, currently playing at the New Victory Theater, similarly illustrates the current challenges refugees experience in both arriving to the new country and adapting to a new life.
The show begins with a group of four young people, probably in their early twenties, who are refugees from various countries. They meet in a waiting room, filling out paperwork as they are about to enter the new country and share their experience of the process thus far.
Later, the show takes a different turn as the actors step out of character and each discusses his or her own personal journey and how their real-life families ended up in America, including some of the difficulties they encountered.
Towards the end of the show the performers encourage the audience to take out their phones and go to a website where they can click on the countries they or their families (or ancestors) came from on their way to the U.S.
I recently saw the show and was impressed by the courage of the actors to open up and discuss their personal – and often painful – family history. I also really liked the inventive idea of having the audience “take part” in the show by using their phones to plug in their own “story”. It was really cool to see how the big screen on stage started to fill up with lots and lots of countries and it really drove home the point that all Americans came from somewhere and that our ancestors have all, at some point, had to deal with being in a new country, perhaps similarly to what the characters in the show had to deal with.
The show was developed, in part, through the New Victory LabWorks program and the creators of the show did extensive research by spending time in Munich, working and interviewing refugees from all over the world.
The performance is about one hour long and is recommended for kids ages ten and up. I took my ten-year-old and we had a discussion about today’s refugee situation – both before the show and after. The show is a great opportunity to get kids to learn about current events in a setting that enables them to see how some people strive for a better life and the struggles they endure.
When: 1/18/20 at 2 pm and 7pm
1/19/20 at 3pm
Where: 209 W. 42nd St.
Price: $17 and up
To purchase tickets please click here.
Photos by Craig Mungavin
I was not compensated for this post. I received tickets.
Senior Reviewer Maytal Wichman is a freelance writer and has written for several blogs, including The Huffington Post. She has been living in the New York City area for nineteen years and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature as well as a Law Degree. Maytal is a stay-at-home mom to three kids, ages 13, 10 and 7.