Exactly 400 years ago this year, the first slave ship landed on American shores. For nearly 100 years before that, the land was inhabited by people who came here also against their will, or to seek refuge from a non-accepting society. Four whole centuries later and we can basically be talking about the present day. It’s jarring how little has changed in the pattern of our movement around this planet and the needs of those who live on it. Immigrants and their experience is woven into the very fabric of this country, and no contemporary theatrical piece showcases this as poignantly as William Massolia’s In To America.

For anyone born or currently living in Miami, we know that immigration is a key component of what makes our home so vibrant, and also sometimes so divided. Cultures may blend, but people and their pasts get erased in the process. Massolia seeks to preserve that past and those stories through the nearly 400-year journey showcased in In To America. The emotional play traces the American immigrant experience from Jamestown to present day through the stories of ordinary men, women and children who departed their homelands in the hopes of creating a new life. Sound familiar? The play and its topic could not be more essential in today’s world.

Photo by Des Moines Performing Arts

Using personal diaries, journals, and documented historic narratives throughout those 400 years, the play’s storyline unfolds through a series of dramatic monologues performed by seasoned actors. During these monologues, a series of raw and gripping images and videos are projected behind them for the effect of transcending time, space and race to reflect the diversity and commonalities of our shared American experience. To enhance the theatrical experience of the play all performances are followed by a post-play discussion.

William Massolia is a critically-acclaimed playwright and founding member of the Griffin Theatre Company, the ensemble from which the play is currently being performed around the U.S. Celebrating its twenty-eighth season, the Griffin Theatre Company established in 1988, is a not-for-profit, professional theatre company located in Chicago. The mission of the Griffin Theatre Company is to create extraordinary and meaningful theatrical experiences for both children and adults by building bridges of understanding between generations that instill in its audience an appreciation of the performing arts.

Photo of Griffin Theatre’s production of ‘Ragtime’

Currently making its tour around the country, In To America will be coming to South Florida for a one night, two-show stint on Friday, May 10th at the Dade-County Auditorium thanks to Culture Shock Miami. Make sure to do yourself and your ancestors a favor, and grab your tickets for a rollercoaster experience not to be missed.