The costs of America’s cruel immigration regime are brought to the personal level in the play Sanctuary City, currently running at Arena Stage. The 2021 play by Polish-born playwright Martyna Majok follows two undocumented immigrants, a young man and woman of national origin (referred to only as B and G in the program), as they negotiate a transition to adulthood made more difficult by their lack of citizenship. They regard themselves every bit as American as their country does not. B helps G through her early struggles at home — will G reciprocate when B needs her years later?
The story begins shortly after the 9/11 attacks and ends some four years later. That it takes place about two decades ago shows, in some ways, how little has changed over those years — and, in other ways, how much. The first half of the play’s non-linear structure and repeated dialogue reflect the disruptions inherent in undocumented people’s existence as they continually face frustrations and challenges in a complex world made harder by their immigration status.
The stories of all immigrants are unique, but they have common threads. Sanctuary City makes the connection between the particular and the general. It will play at Arena Stage’s Kreeger Theater until November 27.