• Players by the Sea

A Note from Harolyn Sharpe, Director of "The Immigrant"

I saw The Immigrant several years ago at Actor’s Theatre in Louisville, KY and have wanted to help get it produced in my area ever since. It was written in 1986; the story takes place in 1908; and the issues are still critical and pertinent today in 2020. Just this week there was a homicide at a Rabbi’s home in New York, 5 were stabbed while celebrating Hanukkah. The questions surrounding “legal immigration”, the definition of a “worthy” immigrant, and the dilemma of accepting differences, are the driving forces in todays debate.

This play was written by Mark Harelik telling the story of his grandfather, a Russian Jew, who immigrates to Hamilton, Texas in 1908 and develops a friendship with the town banker and his Southern Baptist wife. The power of this play is seeing the relationship of these characters move from fear and wariness to cultural understanding and support – the banker loans the immigrant money to build his grocery business, the women share recipes, religious traditions and support each other in the births and deaths in their families. The writer uses humor and pathos to make these characters genuine, believable and engaging.

My favorite part of rehearsing this show is seeing the four actors create a range of emotions that is genuine and believable. The discomfort with a stranger, the longing for home and family, the friction in mis-understood points of view, the curiosity in learning different cultural norms, and the depth of support that comes from a shared love are the emotional challenges of this script. Our actors have mastered the challenge.

I am so excited to have this opportunity to open the doors of the arts to our diverse Jacksonville community with an opportunity to see a story of real people on stage, and then engage in a conversation afterwards with the audience about the similarities we see in today’s culture. We are collaborating with Hope McMath and Yellow House gallery by displaying an exhibit in the lobby of paintings, stories and art work by Arabic women in Jacksonville. We are collaborating with the Interfaith Council of Jacksonville to have some immigrant stories presented after our 2:00 matinee on Sat Jan 11.

This show is by donation only, at the door or over the phone. Make your reservation here or call the Box Office at 904.249.0289.

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