Letter from an audience member:
Dear Chris Domig,
I'm writing to commend you on your performance last night. I stumbled upon "Dirt" rather haphazardly, and was unsure of what to expect. I can tell you honestly though, I was incredibly moved by the show. It is a brilliant piece of writing as is, but the way you embodied the character of Sad turned a poetic monologue into an incredibly jarring, intense and profoundly heart wrenching journey for the audience.
Even though this is New York City, arguably the immigrant capital of the world, the plight of immigrants in this city remains greatly misunderstood, oversimplified, romanticized, unknown. This is especially the case for Arabs and other immigrants of color who woke up to a NYC that was deeply distrusting of them following the events of 9-11. People may understand that the immigrants of this country and this city are struggling, but they know precious little of what this struggle looks like, where it comes from, the person waging it, staggering under the burden of it. The "immigrant debate" taking place in the U.S. right now, is not a discussion of personal struggle and human dignity, it isn't a debate about people, their stories, conditions, fears, hopes, or dreams, it seeks to dehumanize people for purposes of sterilizing the discussion.
This is why I think your performance was and is so incredibly important. I teach ESL in the South Bronx, and many of my students are undocumented immigrants. Even in one of the most progressive cities in the world, I saw so much of my students in your portrayal of Sad. Most are Mexicans, who like Sad, work demeaning jobs where they are rarely acknowledged as people, addressed with eye contact, engaged in conversation. Your performance made me cry. I recognize that loneliness, that alienation, that desperation, in my students. Its hard to keep facing it, to keep engaging it, to not turn away even when its uncomfortable. Your show made me squirm on the inside, and that's good. We all need to be continuously forced to squirm. Its so easy to sink back into comfortable numb acceptance. So to me, your performance is priceless.
This show is sorely needed. I hope you know that. We are living in a country where attacks on immigrants are increasing every single day. Cruelly named "return to sender" ICE raids across the country are viciously tearing families apart, leaving children and family members behind to worry, unable to access lawyers, unable to fill out forms, unable to trust authorities with information on their loved ones. They are vulnerable. They need a voice. You provided that last night. I am encouraging all my friends to go see your show. The ending of the show was so awesomely inspiring. It forced you to be confronted with Sad's acceptance of everything, with your own acceptance of everything that's going on. You were alarmed at Sad's declaration that he will quietly acquiesce, that he must not fight back, that he must accept, that he is deserving. But in being alarmed with that sentiment, you are made aware of your own passive acceptance of this logic and
how utterly f-ed up it is.
People do not deserve this, and should not take this. Humanity is under attack in our own country and around the world. War rages on in Afghanistan and Iraq. At home, the distrustful bitter paranoid xenophobic sentiment is growing. Hurricane Katrina survivors have been forgotten. Plans are being made for war with Iran. Homosexuals are being openly attacked and denied basic citizen rights.
How all of this will be decided, whether it will continue, will all be decided by whether we take Sad's advice and stand quiet while the people of the world are bludgeoned, battered and degraded. I for one will not be silent. Thank you for reminding me of why I made that choice. I know you will inspire similar feelings in others, and I feel grateful for that.
Thank you again for last night's experience.