'Visa Para Un Sueño,' doing Broadway in Spanish
"Visa Para Un Sueño" is the new Broadway-style musical that tells the story of what millions of immigrants have to endure when arriving in the United States before achieving the longed-for American dream.
If you are Latino and read the title of this article then you surely already have the first phrase of Juan Luis Guerra's famous merengue in your head, that beat that makes all immigrants close their eyes, dance silently on the inside, and smile wistfully.
That is also the story of Raúl González, a Venezuelan who emigrated to the United States more than 20 years ago and whose hardships, joys and achievements are shared by millions of immigrants from coast to coast in the country, and are now represented in the musical comedy of which he is the producer: "Visa Para Un Sueño.” The show premiered a new season on August 10 in Miami, Florida.
AL DÍA had the opportunity to speak with Raúl about his fantastic story and what this production means now in a country shaken and overburdened by anti-immigrant policies.
"I'm Venezuelan and I arrived here 24 years ago," Raúl tells us during a telephone interview. "I had to sing at night, distribute chips. I had to sleep in a car for 28 days, that is, I had a hard story."
It was this experience that would mark his first years as an immigrant in the United States and that, at first, made him feel alone in the vicissitudes of the foreigner.
Thanks to hard work and opportunities, he managed to join Univision and work for 13 years as a presenter of the Despierta América program, through which he traveled "from coast to coast."
"I wanted to take the opportunity that television gave me to tell my story, but when I realized, I said 'no, my story is not the hardest,'" recalls the artist.
Thanks to this work, Raúl was able to extract all the common points from the stories of each immigrant he met and transfer them to paper, to create something that could communicate effectively and let everyone know that they are not alone.
"I started interviewing a lot of people and I began to register the common points, such as the reason of the arrival to the country, the reason why we left, that bucolic syndrome of nostalgia that makes us repeat ‘I was this in my country, I had this in my country,’ the fake papers, the language, the jobs you had never done and now you have to do, the rethinking of life, establishing a community, achieving the dream."
That's when "Visa Para Una Sueño" was born.
Raúl recalls that the genre for "Visa Para Un Sueño" is something that is more closely related to the Spanish-speaking community in the United States more than a decade ago (when it was first premiered), and that is why they chose to transform history into a musical comedy because "we cry but we also laugh," a perfect example of the spirit of the Latino immigrant.
"Through the musical comedy, people go through all that roller coaster of emotions that you experience when you're an immigrant," the producer laughs.
The first edition of "Visa Para Un Sueño" was 12 years ago, with an attendance of more than 24,000 people, but considering the current political situation in the United States, the production team decided to re-edit the play.
"After 12 years there is an important maturity in all aspects," Raúl reflects on the reconceptualization of his work. "Acting and production maturity, emotional intelligence...”
With the emergence of new media, this new play features video mapping as a scenography resource, a band of 10 musicians, a dance corps of 12 dancers and a casting of 13 actors of different nationalities.
"This is Broadway in Spanish," he says.
Raúl insists that this work has no political content, and is proposed "with great respect" to the circumstances that not only immigrants live but the United States in general.
However, the focus of all those on the stage is "to empower and enhance what Latinos are in this country, and the power that we are acquiring every day in all areas."
Raúl wants people to leave the room knowing that "yes you can," because in the end, and in his own words, "this is an ode to the immigrant, to the brave, because we are not immigrants... we are brave.”
"Visa Para Un Sueño" will still be presented through September 16 on Fridays (8:30 PM), Saturdays (5:00 and 8:30 PM) and Sundays (6:00 PM) at the Miracle Theater in the City of Coral Gables in Miami. The team is planning a tour to visit the main cities of the United States during the next months.
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