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Stage & Studio: Marc David Pinate and Antigone

Dmae Lo Roberts talks with the playwright and Borderlands Theater leader whose U.S. border adaptation of "Antigone" opens at Milagro Theatre.


Marc David Pinate

Dmae Lo Roberts talks with Marc David Pinate, a playwright and artistic director of Borderlands Theater, remotely from Tucson, Arizona.

In 2017, Pinate had difficulty paying the salary of  an ensemble member who was also on staff at Borderlands. This was during a  time when no one could re-register for DACA (Deferred Action for the Childhood Arrivals) status.

Pinate started thinking about bodies of undocumented people in the desert. This image brought to mind the Greek tragedy of Sophocles’ Antigone, who defied the Gods and her ruler/uncle, Creon, by trying to bury her brother. What resulted was an idea for the play Antigone at the Border as a metaphor for the border crisis. He produced an online multimedia version of the play during the pandemic. Its first in-person live production is running in Portland, March 11-26 at Milagro Theatre. 

 (L-R) Lara Velarde as Antigone, Mary Reagan as Mona
and Enrique Andrade (the voice of the Max) as Creon.  Photo by Liana Rose
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Hear past shows on Stage & Studio website. Theme Music by Clark Salisbury.

In this podcast we’ll hear about how Antigone at the Border was developed from interviews with DACA recipients and border guards, as well as the connection Latinx playwrights have to Greek Tragedy.

We also learn about the festival-like productions of Borderlands, and what the two main characters, Antigone and Creon, have to say to modern audiences.

An outdoor production at Borderlands Theatre

“Both are trying to have the life and have the basic human right of joy, of freedom of, of having all the safety and the things you need to be happy,” says Pinate. “But they have opposite strategies of getting there. And in the end, they both kind of meet not very, very bad ends, but at least Antigone in my play, she knows where she’s going and why she’s doing it–whereas Creon really gets taken by surprise and everything he thought that was the right thing to do, gets the rug gets pulled out from under him at the very end.”

Written by Marc David Pinate
Directed by Reina Solunaya

March 11 – 26, 2022. Fri. – Sat. at 7:30 p.m. Sun. at 2 p.m.
Milagro Theatre, 525 SE Stark Street, Portland, Oregon
$20 – $27; discounts for students & seniors
Tickets can be purchased through the Milagro website via this link: Arts People or calling 503-236-7253

Based on interviews with DACA recipients and Latinx Border Patrol agents, Antigone at the Border sheds light on the emotional labor and mental health toll experienced by Latinx border communities affected by U.S. immigration policy. When the body of her deceased brother is ordered to be left in the desert, DACA recipient and humanitarian aid worker Antigone Guzman confronts her uncle, Creon Cardenas, the newly appointed Border Patrol chief of the Thebes sector. A postcolonial reimagining of the Greek classic, Antigone at the Border explores age-old questions of membership and belonging. Community discussion and panels will hopefully spark a conversation about the effects racism and bias have on immigrant communities.

Marc David Pinate is a theater maker who has worked with nationally recognized theatre companies such as Magic Theatre, Campo Santo, El Teatro Campesino, ShadowLight Productions, Steppenwolf, and Victory Gardens. The producing artistic director of Borderlands Theater in Tucson, AZ since 2013, his passion for creative placemaking has led him to create site-specific theatrical projects focused on border narratives (Más, Sanctuary, Sonoran Shadows) collaborating with an array of institutional partners, artists, and communities. Playwrighting credits include Fear of a Brown Planet with Chicano Messengers of Spoken Word, and 2012: Time of No Time with the Hybrid Performance Experiment. Marc holds an MFA from the Theatre School at DePaul University.

Community Events at Milagro’s Antigone at the Border:

Dreaming in Oregon: A Community Panel Describing the Needs and Aspirations of DACA-mented Oregonians

The panel discussion will cover the unique challenges that DACA-mented individuals face in Oregon and the resources available at the state and local level. Panelists include current Portland State University students and SOAR Immigration services representatives. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Oscar Fernandez, a Professor at Portland State University. Friday, March 18, 6-7 p.m. at El Zocalo at El Centro Milagro, 527 S.E. Stark St., Portland.

UndocuVision: A showcase of films by the Undocumented Community

Literary Arts Presents the Portland Book Festival Portland Oregon

An evening of stories about the Undocumented experience in the United States: short films made by members of the Undocumented Filmmakers Collective, a group of undocumented filmmakers working in communities across the country. The screening includes exclusive virtual introductions to the films by the filmmakers themselves. Wednesday, March 23, 6-8 p.m. at El Zocalo at El Centro Milagro, 537 S.E. Stark St., Portland.

Dmae Roberts is a two-time Peabody winning radio producer, writer and theatre artist. Her work is often autobiographical and cross-cultural and informed by her biracial identity. Her Peabody award-winning documentary Mei Mei, a Daughter’s Song is a harrowing account of her mother’s childhood in Taiwan during WWII. She adapted this radio documentary into a film. She won a second Peabody-award for her eight-hour Crossing East documentary, the first Asian American history series on public radio. She received the Dr. Suzanne Ahn Civil Rights and Social Justice award from the Asian American Journalists Association and was selected as a United States Artists (USA) Fellow. Her stage plays and essays have been published in numerous publications. She published her memoir The Letting Go Trilogies: Stories of a Mixed-Race Family in 2016. As a theatre artist, she has won two Drammys, one for her acting and one for her play Picasso In The Back Seat which also won the Oregon Book Award. Her plays have been produced in Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, NYC and Florida. Roberts is the executive producer of MediaRites, a nonprofit multicultural production organization and co-founder of Theatre Diaspora, an Asian American/Pacific Islander non-profit theatre that started as a project of MediaRites. She created the Crossing East Archive of more than 200 hours of broadcast-quality, pan-AAPI interviews and oral histories. For 23 years, Roberts volunteered to host and produce Stage & Studio live on KBOO radio. In 2009, she started the podcast on StagenStudio.com, which continues at ArtsWatch.

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