"It's not personal experience for me," playwright Raul Garza says of his new work, There and Back. "But it's a story that's told from a personal point of view, as opposed to something about statistics or policy only."
With There and Back, Garza is attempting to give a human face to the story of immigration. "Obviously -- obviously if you could see and the group -- that's the background that I'm from, Mexican-American. But the experience that we see in the play is not one that I had directly. It's one I saw a lot growing up. It's one that a lot of us, especially from South Texas and Central Texas see in our everyday lives. But we never really get to look at it closely from the viewpoint of the person experiencing it firsthand."
There and Back follows the story of Gloria, an immigrant from Mexico, through several decades of her experience in the United States. "She crossed over into the United States to be with her husband, to reunite with her husband, who's already been working as a farm worker in the United States for about six years," says Karina Dominguez, who plays Gloria. "He's sold this dream to her -- the American Dream. And so she arrives in the United States, she arrives to this farmworker camp, with a lot of really high expectations. And the reality doesn't necessarily match up with what the expectations are."
Giselle Marie Muñoz plays the Virgen de Guadalupe, or at least Gloria's vision of her. "She is summoned by Gloria, and Gloria's heart is aching as she's realizing this isn't what she expected," she says. "So she needs a friend. She needs a little help, she needs a little guidance."
"We had decided a year ago in our season that we wanted to do a show about immigration," says Patti Neff-Tiven, who's directing this show and is the co-artistic director of Grand Floor Theatre. "We do show that are by and for underrepresented communities and try to get those kind of stories out there, stories that we might not necessarily hear in the general public all the time."
"We've taken on this responsibility and this opportunity to reclaim the human face of immigration," says Garza. "And stop just talking about numbers and policies and petitions, and give it that human face."