With Detained, LMU Theatre Arts Confronts Immigration Head-on

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LMU Theatre Arts recently presented a staged reading of Detained, by France-Luce Benson at the Barnelle Theatre, followed by talkbacks with an immigration attorney and child psychiatrist, among others. The documentary theater piece, Detained, was written based on interviews with individuals who are facing deportation, as well as judges, lawyers, ICE officers, and activists who are involved in the cases. In writing the piece, Benson wanted to create a play about the human lives forever impacted by immigration laws.

Director Lawrence Lacey brought the play to life at LMU by evoking stunning student performances. The sixteen-person cast presented the docudrama, highlighting the rippling impact of mass deportations based on the stories of real people. “Art has often been a voice for the voiceless,” said Lacey. “This piece of art is presenting an opportunity for real, tangible change. Detained allows for those having been voiceless to have a voice, to share their stories, and to reach out and be heard.”

In the talkbacks following the performances, audience members were invited to engage in conversations with the guest speakers about issues confronted in the play, including mass deportations occurring in the U.S. The guests were immigration advocates from the L.A. area, including Linda Dakin-Grimm, an attorney who handles immigration cases pro bono and Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, professor of Theology at LMU who works directly with DACA students on campus. Also invited were Amy Cohen, a Family and Child Psychiatrist who works with immigration on a macro and micro scale and Casey Revin, Director of Every Last One, an organization dedicated to expediting the release of all immigrant children from the trauma of government detention. The talkbacks allowed students, faculty, and the invited experts to inform each other by sharing personal experiences and viewpoints on issues surrounding immigration.