The play is conceived and directed by Ping Chong and "will feature seven residents of Syracuse — recent arrivals and long-standing residents — who will voice each other's rich and complex histories, extraordinary experiences and cultural identities."
Kyle Bass, literary manager and dramaturg for Tales from the Salt City, started the search for Syracuse, NY, residents in April 2008. Along with Ping Chong and co-writer Sara Zatz, Bass conducted first round intereviews with a pool of approximately 30 candidates.
"We looked for a sense of openness and otherness, those who identify with cultures or heritages that are outside the historically dominant American culture," stated Bass. "It was also important that each person's story was also a Syracuse story."
For the next round, potential participants met twice with Chong and Zatz, and then the final group was chosen. "They were chosen based on how their stories bounced off others' stories, how ideas bounced off each other," Bass said.
The cast for this handmade, unique production, according to Syracuse Stage, will include:Lino T. Ariloka, originally from Sudan in Eastern Africa, has lived in Syracuse for almost eight years. Most of his family is still in Sudan, except for his sister Margaret who he is putting through primary school in Nairobi, Kenya. Currently he works for The Bank of New York Mellon, and he interns at On Point for College, a program that helps inner city children get to college.Gordana Dudevski, formerly a kindergarten teacher in Veles, Macedonia, has lived in Syracuse for the past 15 years with her husband, Zoran, and their two children, Alexandra and Samuel. This is Gordana's first time on stage, and she is happy to have this opportunity to tell the story of Liberty Deli, her current place of employment.Rebecca Isabel Fuentes grew up in Tijuana, a city in northwestern Mexico. She has lived in Syracuse for five years along with her husband Jason Davis, daughter Ellain, son Roberto and mother Isabel Murillo. Currently she is working at the Red Cross as a Community Ambassador and is an Immigrant Rights Activist with the CNY Detainment Task Force. Previously she served as a Specialist in the U.S. Army.José Miguel Hernández is originally from Cuba and has lived in Syracuse for 11 years. For ten years he has worked at Rosewood Heights Health Center as a physical therapy aide, simultaneously with the Spanish Action League as a theatre dance instructor. He has a degree in nursing from The National Institute of Oncology and Radiobiology in Havana, Cuba, a theatre degree from Teatro Estudio, and in 1999 he founded La Joven Guardia del Teatro Latino (The Latino Theatre's Youth Troupe) with Spanish Action League of Onondaga County.Albert Marshall is a Syracuse native who raised his family in Syracuse. He has worked at Crucible for 35 years, and he is president of 1277 United Steel Workers Local Union. Albert has appeared in numerous theatre productions including Our Lady of 121st Street and The Member of the Wedding at The Redhouse, and 23 Skidoo (as Jim) and Annie (as Drake) at Theatre '90.Emad Rahim is originally from Cambodia and has lived in Syracuse for 17 years. He is currently working for SUNY Empire State College as Outreach and Recruitment Specialist, for the consulting company Innovative Development, Inc., as adjunct professor at Colorado Technical University and Bryant & Stratton College, and he is a member of 40 Below, "Its All Here" Taskforce and ACTS (Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse).
Jeanne Shenandoah has been a traditional homebirth midwife and herbalist for 25 years as a member of the Eel Clan of the Onondaga Nation. She works at the Onondaga Nation Communications Office, serving on the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force. She is a past vice president of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation. For more information visit www.syracusestage.org.
Syracuse Stage is Central New York's major professional theatre. Founded as a not-for-profit theatre in 1974 by Arthur Storch, Stage has produced more than 220 plays in 35 seasons including numerous world and American premieres.
Producing artistic director is Timothy Bond. The managing director is Jeffrey Woodward.