The true story of Edgar Chacoy-Guzman (Manny Ureña) is now a new documentary play by Jeffrey Solomon called De Novo, produced by Houses on the Moon. Performing as part of the inaugural season of Next Door @ NYTW, De Novo, seeks to shed light on the 1.1 million undocumented minors in this country, by using this story to add heart.
Margarita (Zuleyma Guevara) left her son Edgar with relatives when he was just a baby, so she could work in the United States and send money back to Guatemala, due to a food shortage. At the age of nine Edger gets involved with the criminal gang Mara Salvatrucha (better known as MS-13) due to his lack of belonging. The gang became the family he’s missing, since communication with his mother was limited. At 14 Edgar tries to leave the gang, but gangs do not allow departure and put a hit out on him. His mother finally agrees to pay $7000 to smuggle him across the border to her. Once here, Edgar feels displaced due to the fact his mother has two more children. Edgar joins the gangs in L.A. and gets caught running drugs and in possession of a fire arm not once, but three times. His mother who is still undocumented and does not want to be deported, kicks Edgar out after only five months instead of sending him to his aunt in Virginia, which gets brought out when Edgar is in court. While in jail Edgar sends several letters asking for his mother to visit. By this point she has ovarian cancer, but the letters make it sound like visitation were rare, if at all. When Edgar ends up in juvenile detention, counselor Santiago Sanchez (Camilo Almonacid) tries to convince him to walk away from gang life. When he is brought to court to be deported Edgar’s attorney, Kimberly Salinas (Emily Joy Weiner), tries to help, the Aunt in Virginia offers to take him in, but we never hear that Margarita was there for her son. She may have been, but that is not in the play. In the end Edgar is deported at 16 and is killed within a few months. His last letter to his mother was that he would be a good boy. The message is America failed him. With over 250,000 unaccompanied minors attempting to unlawfully cross into the United States, one has to ask where are these parents and why are they having kids?
Lawrence E. Moten’s set is daunting, as the piles of case including official documents: court transcripts, interviews, and police reports are sky high. Edgar’s case is just one of hundreds of thousands. There are also bars, used creatively as the judge’s bench and Edgar’s cell.
Immigration is a topic of hotheaded discussion, but it does need to be discussed and both sides need to be heard.
De Novo: Houses on the Moon at Next Door @ NYTW, 79 East 4th, until Dec 22nd