I Come From Arizona with the Children’s Theater Company in Minneapolis

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While our tickets were complimentary, all opinions are my own. 

It has been quite a while since the boys and I have visited the theater, so we were excited to see the newest feature from the Children’s Theatre Company- I Come From Arizona. The theme of this play is such a great way to engage with children on this important and timely topic. The gist of it is this, Gabi, a Latina teen from south Chicago, tests into one of the top high schools in Chicago. A global perspectives class forces her to confront her mother about their entry into the US. Gabi has always been told by her parent’s that they come from Arizona. As we eventually learn, the truth is much more complicated. 

I have had numerous conversations with my boys around the topic of undocumented immigration in the US. I’ve made it clear that I do not condone the actions or rhetoric of our current leadership. While I know some parent’s tend not to address these topics with their children directly, I think in our current times it’s very important that parents do so. If you find these conversations easy to have with your children or even if you don’t, taking kids to see I Come From Arizona is a great way to put the topic into a tangible storyline. Typically on the news it’s the flashy headlines that come careening at us without a greater explanation with them. But I Come From Arizona is a story with personable characters that allow the audience to understand the deeper meaning in all the news language of the day. 

The most powerful moment of the entire play is when a characters says- “a person can’t be illegal”. It’s so simple, but true. No human being is illegal. People can be undocumented, but they are not illegal. I got goosebumps in the theater as the power of those words hung in the air. And I clearly was not the only one moved by those words as my boys have mentioned them in the days since as well. 

One thing I always try to stress to my boys is that we are immigrants too. My great-grandfather immigrated to the US from Norway in the early 1900’s. Yes, it was a long time ago. But almost everyone has an immigrant past. Some are just more recent than others. And while my boys and I can thank my great-grandfather for his determination and dream of making a better life, immigrants today that make that same big leap are carving out a better life for their grandkids and great-grandkids too. 

If you visit the Children’s Theatre Company online you’ll be able to get a parent’s overview {content advisories} of the play. I knew ahead of time this play is best suited to older children, around fourteen. That being said, I brought all three of my boys with me- ages 14, 11 and 9. All three of my children understood the meaning behind the play in the context of our current conditions, this is probably because of so many of our previous conversations. In the play there are sections when Gabi is talking with her mom where the conversation is more Spanish than English. I thought this integration was great, as in all likelihood the conversation would be taking place entirely in Spanish in real life. My 9 year old did mention he had a harder time following the conversation during those parts. The switching from Spanish to English was a little too fast for him in those moments, but as previously stated he had no problem understanding the play. While he didn’t track all the words, the emotions and greater context was undeniable. 

The play is about two hours in length with a 15 minute intermission. The program even comes with activities to further help their level of insight on the topic of immigration. 

I Come From Arizona will be at the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis until November 25th. Learn more by visiting the Children’s Theatre Company online

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