Updated: Theater experience unveils trials of immigration court

Experience is intended to raise funds for Advocates for Immigrants in Detention Northwest.

Update: This show will be postponed until further notice based on the Public Health – Seattle & King County guidelines around the novel coronavirus.

Indivisible Vashon’s Immigrant/Refugee Rights Group will present “The Detention Lottery” at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 7, at Open Space for Arts and Community.

“The Detention Lottery” is a striking, interactive courtroom theater experience with a cast of working immigration attorneys and eight audience members participating in their own immigration trial. They are assigned identities as immigrants who then must defend themselves against deportation as best they can in court without preparation.

This presentation, the first on Vashon Island, is designed to engage and inform the community about the difficulties that immigrants and refugees face at the Northwest Detention Center, and to raise funds for Advocates for Immigrants in Detention Northwest (AID NW), a nonprofit that supports detainees inside and upon release.

Janie Starr of Indivisible Vashon wrote in an email that several members of the Detention Lottery planning team saw the play in Tacoma last summer and felt that it would be well received on Vashon.

“As members of Indivisible Vashon’s Immigrant/Refugee Rights Team, many of us have spent time as silent witnesses during court sessions at the Northwest Detention Center, and we can attest to the accuracy of the play’s rendition of what actually occurs there,” she said, adding that few people are aware that they have a right to sit in on these hearings. “We believe that the more informed we become, the stronger will be our ability to show up in effective ways on behalf of immigrants and refugees whose only crime has been to seek a better way of life — a vision that has inspired people to seek refuge here since our earliest beginnings as a nation,” she said.

Seattle playwright and immigration attorney Margaret O’Donnell wrote “The Detention Lottery” as part of an effort to open the immigration enforcement system to public witness and provide a first-hand look inside one such courtroom. O’Donnell made the materials for the production available online for communities to stage their own show of “The Detention Lottery.”

More information

  • Food will be available for purchase from Iyad’s Syrian Grill and beverages from The Hardware Store Restaurant. This performance is sponsored by The Hardware Store Restaurant and supported by local individual donors.
  • Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The program will begin promptly at 7. Tickets are available at openspacevashon.com and are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Students are free. This performance is recommended for middle school-age and above. For more information, contact immigration@indivisiblevashon.org.