Immigration Blues

North High School theater coach José Mercado loves working with his kids, but he occasionally gives adult actors the benefit of his directing skills. His latest effort, Beyond the Border, is a labor of love that pushed him to piece together an exploration of illegal immigration and cultural identity for the local Stories on Stage dramatic reading series.

Mercado turned to recent events, including Denver's May 1 pro-immigration march, for fodder, but Beyond the Border is also born of the culture clash that produced him: the union of his Guadalajaran immigrant father and well-rooted New Mexican mother.

The resulting program will feature music as well as writings and speeches from Sandra Cisneros, Luis Alberto Urrea, Rocky Mountain News columnist Tina Griego, Federico Peña and Tom Tancredo, all read by a fine cast of local and national actors, including Tony Plana. "I feel like I've just started, just because of how volatile the topic is now," Mercado says.

Shows are at 7:30 p.m. tonight and 1 and 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Schomp Theater, Denver School of the Arts, 7111 Montview Boulevard; for tickets, $25, call 303-494-0523 or go to
Fri., May 19, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., May 20, 1 & 7:30 p.m.

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd