Professor Noriega’s play CAGED set to perform at prestigious Belgium international theatre festival

Cast (Stephanie Castrejon '16, Teresa Isabel Ascencio '23, Amari Royal '23) and Jimmy A. Noriega

Jimmy A. Noriega, professor of theatre and Latin American studies, is traveling to Belgium with his theatre company, Teatro Travieso/Troublemaker Theatre, to present a play that he wrote and directed. CAGED will be performed at the Théâtre Universitaire Royal de Liège on Nov. 18 at the Chiroux Theatre. It will be presented during a week-long festival that includes performances by other invited groups from Senegal, Morocco, Great Britain, Lithuania, Germany, and Belgium. “We are honored to receive this special invitation to share our work at the international level,” said Noriega. “Intercultural performance and collaboration are a huge part of who we are as a company, and we have been fortunate to present our plays at a number of places across the globe over the past ten years.”

CAGED focuses on the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that separated families at the US-Mexico border and left thousands of immigrant children incarcerated in detention centers. In the play, three children grapple with what it means to endure the journey from Central America to the United States and to be separated from their loved ones. The play was recently staged at Freedlander Theatre in October. Noriega explains, “The play is a 45-minute production that includes monologues, scenes, movement pieces, and physical aspects that work to bring these important stories and perspectives to the stage.”

The actresses in the production are Wooster alumna Stephanie Castrejón ’16, and seniors, Teresa Isabel Ascencio ’23, and Amari Royal ’23. Research on the project included reading books, news articles, and watching online documentaries and interviews about the border crises.

“This show builds upon our core mission to present important stories for the stage and to build awareness of the systems of oppression that have marginalized and silenced Latinx communities,” said Castrejón, who has been with the company since 2013. “The fact that this play is about children is heartbreaking and demands that each person questions their opinion about our country’s broken immigration system.”

Ascencio added, “CAGED embodies the essence of theatre for social change in that it emphasizes the bitter truth of one of the darkest secrets in United States politics—the manner in which families are captured, separated, and left to face unspeakable trauma both inside and outside of ICE’s hands.”

For Royal, being able to work on CAGED has been a great opportunity. “Theatre has always been my greatest form of storytelling, whether it be to share the voices of the voiceless or to tell my own story when I feel I am being silenced in real life,” she said. “I will never be able to fully express my gratitude or excitement for the chance to tell such an important and powerful story.”

The festival runs Nov. 15-19. Noriega will also lecture in Belgium prior to the festival, as well as travel to Belgrade, Serbia, where he will teach master’s students about the intersections of theatre and politics.

Noriega founded Teatro Travieso/Troublemaker Theatre in 2012. It operates on the premise that theatre can create positive change in the world. To date, the group has staged twelve productions, including: Encuentro: Peru!! (performed in the U.S., Peru, and Romania), Joto: Confessions of a Mexican Outcast (performed in the U.S. and Ireland), and Women of Ciudad Juárez (performed in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Belgium, Greece, and India). Noriega has directed over 50 productions and is the current President of the American Society for Theatre Research.

Posted in News on November 15, 2022.

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