Yamel Cucuy is a devised bilingual production featuring puppetry and human actors. It will premiere at Ground Floor Theatre in Austin, Texas, October 20th – November 5th, 2022.
Thirteen year-old Yamel, an undocumented immigrant in hiding, navigates a treacherous emotional and sociopolitical landscape through interaction with the folkloric spirits of her cultural heritage.
Just outside the paper thin walls, immigration agents are moving door to door, searching for Yamel. Inside the apartment, legendary spirit characters circle ever closer, seeking to steal her childhood essence. El Viejo carries a sack full of children he has stolen, and wants Yamel for his collection. His hands are everywhere, reaching for her from inside couches and cupboards. Las Lloronas’ many faces seek to claim Yamel’s for their own. La Lechuza is drawn to Yamel’s dwindling childhood, and harnesses the budding power of Yamel’s dawning womanhood to fight back against the agents who seek to control and expel la gente from this land.
The show was originally workshopped in 2018 at the Dougherty Arts Center.
Peeling wallpaper on the walls of the apartment revealing shadow screens where events outside the walls are portrayed in shadow puppet sequences. The puppets are lit with hand-held, single source lights to create a cinematic sense of movement. The constant presence of ICE in the hallways intermingle with Yamel’s memories of her hometown and journey north, in stark contrast to the corporeal presence of the puppet spirit creatures within the apartment.