"Immigrants," a world-premiere play by Carmichael, Calif.'s Alan Truax, isn't so much about illegals crashing the borders of the United States, but about hardworking families bending the rules of America's sometimes confusing, sometimes inconsistent legal system in an honest attempt to lawfully live the American Dream.
Though based on Vivienne Sosnowski's nonfiction book "When the Rivers Ran Red," Truax's drama is the fictional story of two immigrant families from Italy and Mexico, respectively. Act one focuses on the Scolettis, whose patriarch, Urbano (Mark Hoffman), brings his wife Rosa (Ashley Lucas) and daughter Federica (Wendy Bosley) – as well as his precious Italian-grown grape vines – to America in hopes of starting his own winery in the Land of the Free and the Home of the "Zin."
But said dream is crushed thanks to the advent of the temperance movement and an investigation by G-Men (Daryl Petrig and Dennis Gunvalson).
"In her book, Sosnowski colorfully chronicles the challenges and hardships Prohibition imposed on several immigrant families living in Napa and Sonoma counties in the early-1900s," said Truax, who also serves as producer of the show which is currently playing at Sacramento's William J. Geery Theater (through April 6).
Presented under the aegis of Genesis Productions, a new theater company formed by Truax and "Immigrants" director Leo McElvoy, the show's second act fast forwards to the 1990s, when we're introduced to the Mendozas. The focus isn't on the paterfamilias, Luiz (Petrig), but on daughter Maria (Bosley).
"(It's the) true story of a Mexican immigrant who courageously served in America’s military during the Iraq war, believing it would assist her efforts to become an American citizen," said Truax. "(But) five days before she was to receive citizenship, she received a call from the federal government informing her that her swearing-in ceremony had been cancelled pending further investigation."
But Truax's sympathetic script doesn't put the immigrant families on trial, but the American immigration system.
If you listen carefully, you can just hear Al Pacino (in his "And Justice for All" film role) yelling, "You're out of order!"
Other plays scheduled to be produced by Genesis Productions in 2014 include “Divorce Court” and "Echoes of the Heart."
"'Divorce Court' is a series of 10 short plays all revolving around the same premise: a divorce court judge sends a married couple into a conference room to make one last effort to work out their differences and prevent their impending divorce," said Truax. "Each individual story presents a distinctively different and entertaining variation of a common theme."
"Echoes of the Heart" is a Holocaust-themed play written and produced by McElroy and local playwright-producer Suzanne Sommers.
"It is based on true events of the Sommers family," said Truax. "Genesis Productions decided to reprise 'Echoes of the Heart,' which premiered in March 2013 as a self-produced independent play, because of the large number of people who were unable to attend due to all performances being sold out."
Truax said Genesis Productions will operate with the input of other local playwrights and producers. Sacramento-area playwrights wishing to submit theatrical scripts for consideration should contact Truax at (916) 521-9959 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or McElroy at (916) 531-1064 or email@example.com.
JUST THE FACTS
WHAT: The world premiere of "Immigrants" by Alan Truax
WHEN: Performances are set for March 21-April 6; Thursday, Friday and Saturday shows start at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees scheduled for 2 p.m.
WHERE: William J. Geery Theater, 2130 L St., Sacramento, Calif.
WHO: Leo McElroy directs Wendy Bosley, Mark Hoffman, Daryl Petrig, Ashley Lucas and Dennis Gunvalson
TICKETS: General admission tickets cost $20 and are available through Brown Paper Tickets