Migrants on the US-Mexico border recreate their journeys in an opera

By Manuel Ayala

Tijuana, Mexico, May 21 (EFE).- Amid the uncertainty that prevails on the border with the United States, migrants stranded in Mexico’s Tijuana are preparing an opera mixed with dance to share their experiences under the migration policies of former president Donald Trump.

The nascent work “Remain in México-Ópera 360” seeks to generate empathy for and understanding of migrants who, under the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP) policy, have been returned to Mexico to await out their asylum claim processes in the US.

“(The intention is that) they can tell their stories, their journeys and their experiences of being a migrant, being a person in a situation of mobility, through the music that we propose, and certain dynamics, exercises and vocabularies,” Yuriria Fanjul, artistic director and writer of the play, tells EFE.

In addition to their stories, Fanjul said they will also integrate the music, food and languages of their cultures and regions, “incorporated into body language within a piece that can be danced.”

The intention to do this work arose after the MPP, also known as the “Remain in Mexico” program, which was implemented in January 2019.

“I was very shocked to see the number of people who were staying in the border cities of Mexico and I had the initiative and the need to contribute something and provide performing arts tools to migrants in shelters,” said Fanjul.

The project is being carried out in Tijuana because “in terms of art and culture, there is more support here,” said the director.

To form the cast they visited the city’s shelters where they held castings from which they selected 30 people: Mexicans from various states, as well as Haitians, Colombians, Hondurans and Guatemalans.

The project has aroused enthusiasm in the migrants because in addition to being paid, “like any other job,” they have been able to “go through their very hard emotions, having experienced trauma and having had such a strong crisis.”

“This play represents my life and is my story (…) It is a team that has brought us together and fills us, not only our hearts, but also our souls. For me it has been very important to belong to this work,” Heidy Nuñez, one of the participants, told EFE.

Migrant Karla Patricia shared that this experience “is something she never imagined.”

“It is such a wonderful work that has awakened in me something that I did not know existed (…) Sometimes we feel defeated, but when we put our soul into something we like then something awakens,” she says.

The play tells the story of a 15-year-old Guatemalan girl named Inana, who flees with her mother from her country due to gang extortion. When she arrives in San Diego in the US to apply for asylum, the authorities return her to Tijuana like thousands of other migrants.

Fanjul’s company Stage of the Arts Mexico is in charge of the project, but the Lux Borelia dance company, originally from Tijuana, also participates in the choreography, as do choreographers Damián Cervantes and Héctor Flores.

The music that will accompany the work is an original piece by Mexican composer Arturo Fuentes, supported in the production by the National Autonomous University of Mexico and is written from the migrants’ own stories.

There will be a presentation to the public on the esplanade of the Tijuana State Center for the Arts (Ceart), on Saturday May 28 at midday. On that day, it will be filmed, and from October it will be available on platforms. EFE


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