WASHINGTON, DC: Great scripts have been written from personal experiences and the much-touted Caribbean/Jamaican musical Welcome to America is one of them.
Writer Karl O’Brien had his own share of immigration issues at the beginning of 2017 and with President Donald Trump announcing a travel ban that same year – inspiration ran aplenty!
The play which premiered in April in Queens has already whetted the appetites with riveting performances and songs that just keeps the audience entranced.
Commenting on the reacting Andrew Clarke said “The response has been overwhelming. From the dedication of our creative to the commitment of the cast who have all said they are invested in the production because it is telling such an important story to our enthusiastic audience, the response has been great,” he said.
Although O’Brien was looking for a good response, he had to admit it was more than he could ever have hoped for.
“We always intended to create great theatre but to balance quality with artistic merit is sometimes a challenge. In this production we have managed to bring a great production that also has commercial appeal,” he shared.
The world premiere at York Performing Arts Center saw Welcome To America playing to sold-out audiences, turning folks back, as there was a line of people waiting hours before the show to get a ticket. They ended up having to include an additional weekend.
The real pull of the production according to the writer is that the story is authentic.
“That it is a relatable story, people either see themselves in the work or they think of someone they know going through this,” he quipped.
A theatre practitioner for over 21 years O’Brien is an arts enthusiast.
“I love everything about the arts, it’s given me purpose, discipline, friends, lovers, and continues to nurture me. This story is definitely for this moment – it’s the story of a Jamaican dreamer – it’s about self-realization, determination and the pursuit of something you cannot ignore,” he said of the storyline.
Welcome To America depicts the all too familiar reality of some Caribbean natives who migrate to the US in search of bigger platforms to create and live. In that regard, it’s nothing new, but it does give voice to a set of people who have been part of the fabric of New York City for decades and part of the influential fiber of the US for centuries.
“That this story is being developed, and told and given visibility means so much, as I wrote this for us, the people in the arts, the actors, dancers, artists, musicians, writers and all who take a leap of faith and search for bigger and better even though there are no guarantees. Of all my projects this ranks as one of the most significant as it challenged me, pushed me, and has changed me for good,” are impassioned words coming from O’Brien.
Welcome To America will play on Saturday, October 28 at Cramton Auditorium, Howard University. Learn more here
Source: Images Newsletter.