The creative force behind “Alma,” includes, from left, Benjamin Benne (playwright), Brandon J. Simmons (director) and actresses Anabel Hovig (Alma) and Klarissa Marie Robles (Angel). COURTESY PHOTO, Theatre Battery

The creative force behind “Alma,” includes, from left, Benjamin Benne (playwright), Brandon J. Simmons (director) and actresses Anabel Hovig (Alma) and Klarissa Marie Robles (Angel). COURTESY PHOTO, Theatre Battery

Pertinent play, a ‘very human’ story hits local stage

In ‘Alma,’ Theatre Battery shares a new tale of an undocumented family in the U.S.

True to its mission, Theatre Battery at Kent Station continues to express performing art tied to relevant social issues – for all to see, interpret and discuss.

This summer season the company shares “Alma” – or “#nowall” – an engaging, intimate and, at times, funny story of an undocumented family living in the United States, appropriate for those caught in the throes of the immigration plight.

In essence, the play examines and questions: what is the American Dream and is it still obtainable in today’s troubling times?

The story – the work of nationally-acclaimed playwright Benjamin Benne – opens this weekend and continues through Sept. 1, possibly longer, at an original-transformed theatre space donated through sponsorship from Kent Station. Admission is given to the public at no cost through Radical Hospitality.

Benne, in writing a play that’s poetic and elusive in style, reframes the American Dream through the eyes of a mother on the precipice of deportation.

“It has many layers, but at the core it’s really about a mother and daughter, a family and the love between those two characters,” Benne said of his work, a professionally-done, fringe theater workshop production. “But there’s so many outside forces, systemic oppression, that are creating barriers between them.

“For me, I want (the audience) to take away a very human story about a mother and daughter.”

The play follows Alma, an undocumented immigrant, and her daughter, Angel, who was born in America.

Nearly 18 years ago, Alma crossed the border between Mexico and the United States, pregnant with a child and great dreams for their life ahead. Now it’s December 2016, and since immigrating, Alma has been studying for her citizenship test while Angel has studied for the SATs. On the eve of Angel’s exam, the nation is holding its breath for the inauguration when Alma discovers that her daughter isn’t studying anymore.

The play, under the direction of Brandon J. Simmon, features Seattle-area actresses Anabel Hovig (Alma) and Klarissa Marie Robles (Angel).

Benne wrote the play in response to President Trump’s call to build a wall to divide the U.S. and Mexico, and the country’s controversial immigration stance that has generated much public angst, debate and rhetoric.

The play also hit home for Benne. “There’s a mixture of sadness and anger, particularly because my mother was an immigrant from Guatemala,” he said. “So it felt very personal very early on.”

The play directly speaks to a diverse population, the immigrant communities of Kent and South King County. It also allows a voice, one of empowerment to the audience. The play will integrate the audience, fielding post-show discussion and giving leaders and followers the chance to debate issues, circumstances and share what’s being done to support immigrants.

Logan Ellis, Theatre Battery co-founder and producing artistic director, said the play is pertinent. Ellis, who grew up in Kent and graduated from Kent-Meridian High School and Green River College, established the theater company to bring socially pertinent contemporary plays to diverse audiences.

To date, Theatre Battery has produced six summer main stage productions, four new play festivals and three series of developmental workshops.

“Alma,” unlike past shows at Kent Station, comes across as “very real,” Ellis said.

“As we introduce it to the community, we’re seeing an outpouring of support from the many immigrant and refugee resource organizations, churches, families and schools in the Kent area who resonate with this conversation and want to participate in that,” said Logan, who collaborates with Benne as a student at the Yale School of Drama.

Born and raised in Los Angeles County, Benne lives today in Minneapolis, Minn. He begins a residency at Yale this fall in pursuit of a masters of fine arts degree in playwriting.

“Alma” was selected to appear at the Eugene O’Niell National Playwrights Conference, a high honor, earlier this summer. Benne hopes the play will be received nationally.

ON STAGE

Production: “Alma” (or “#nowall”)

Stage: Theatre Battery at Kent Station, 444 Ramsay Way, Suite 107, next to Karate Kung-Fu

Performances: 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, Aug. 16-Sept. 1, with a potential extension to Sept. 8. Previews of the play are Aug. 16, 17.

Length: Approximately 90 minutes

Cast: Featuring Anabel Hovig (Alma, the mother) and Klarissa Marie Robles (Angel, the daughter)

Creative team: Mari Salinas, dramaturg; Lex Marcos (scenic designer); Kat Laveaux (costume designer); Amber Parker (lighting designer); Lindsey O’Connor (sound designer); Gianna Gargiulo (props designer); Kait Mahoney (stage manager); Kait Mahoney; KyeAnne Wilde (associate stage manager); and Brandon J. Simmons (director).

Also: The company is combining networks with the city of Kent, Kent Station, the Kent School District, Living Well Kent, Mother Africa, Eat with Muslims, and other local nonprofits to facilitate a conversation series that follows performances and features the work of community leaders that are advocating and providing services to the quickly growing population of immigrants and refugees in South King County.

Admission: No ticket charges. Fifty tickets for each performance can be reserved online through theatrebattery.strangertickets.com. The remaining 30 tickets will be released at the door to walk-ups starting one hour before each performance.

More information: theatrebattery.org, Facebook.com/Theatrebattery, or Twitter: @theatrebattery


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Life

t
Kent Summer Concert series lineup for July 28-29

Aaron Crawford at Kent Station; LeRoy Bell at Lake Meridian Park

Seattle-based Choroloco will perform Saturday, July 10 at the Inside Out Marketplace in downtown Kent along First Avenue South. COURTESY PHOTO, Choroloco
Inside Out Marketplace opens Saturday, July 10 in downtown Kent

Acoustic trio Choroloco to provide musical entertainment

Rajiv Nagaich is an elder law attorney, author, adjunct law school professor, and retirement planning visionary who has achieved national recognition for his cutting-edge work with retirees and his contributions to the practice of elder law. He is the founder of two firms based in Federal Way: Life Point Law, an elder law and estate planning firm, and AgingOptions, a firm that provides retirement-related education to consumers and professionals.
You probably won’t die in your sleep | Senior Lifestyles

Traditional estate planning is based on notions that are out of sync… Continue reading

t
Kent-Meridian High drama program produces film about pandemic

‘Unstable Connection’ tells story about students navigating remote learning, social isolation

People dine outside in downtown Kent in 2020 along First Avenue between Gowe and Titus streets. COURTESY FILE PHOTO, Kent Downtown Partnership
Friday Night Market coming up July 23 in downtown Kent

First Avenue South to be closed to vehicles for pedestrian-oriented marketplace

2021 Lexus IS350 AWD F-Sport
Car review: 2021 Lexus IS350 AWD F-Sport

By Larry Lark, contributor When it comes to manufacturing compact luxury sports… Continue reading

2021 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S
Car review: 2021 Mercedes AMG E63 S sedan

By Larry Lark, contributor The latest incarnation of the Mercedes AMG E63… Continue reading

2021 Mazda3 Premium Plus
Car review: 2021 Mazda3 Premium Plus

By Larry Lark, contributor The Mazda3 has always looked the part of… Continue reading

2021 Toyota 4Runner 4x4 Trail Special Edition
Car review: 2021 Toyota 4Runner 4×4 Trail Special Edition

By Larry Lark, contributor If the great outdoors is your playground, it… Continue reading

Courtesy Photo, City of Kent
Kent Arts Commission seeks applicants to fill alternate vacancy

Group helps plan Spotlight Series and summer concerts

Cody Johnson will perform Oct. 16 at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent. COURTESY PHOTO, Codyjohnsonmusic.com
Concerts begin to come back at ShoWare Center in Kent

Country singer Cody Johnson to perform Oct. 16

Kathie Nguyen embraces Eileen & Callie's Place founder Dr. Natalie Ellington. Celebrate 18!, hosted on July 13, 2019, was also the day of Ellington's birthday. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo
Nonprofit to host birthday party for girls aging out of the foster care system

Eileen & Callie’s Place is hosting Celebrate 18!, a celebration and resource event, Saturday, July 17.