We all want to know at the end of the day that we’re going to be safe. A home where we’re accepted for who we are and not by judgement of our cultural roots or backgrounds. Sanctuary City, a new play written by Pulitzer Prize winner Martyna Majok, has provided a story about two DREAMers who just want a peaceful life without any of these factors affecting their vision of the ‘perfect home’.

Since the 8th of September, Sanctuary City began its official Off-Broadway run after its previews from March 2020 were halted from the pandemic. The original cast composed of Jasai Chase-Owens, Sharlene Cruz, and Julian Elijah Martinez have reprised their respective roles for the play.

Sanctuary City is a story set between 2001 and 2006 (pre-DREAM and DACA) in Newark, New Jersey following B (Jasai Chase-Owens) and G (Sharlene Cruz) as they navigate the complexity and issues in  America during the early 2000s.

During the early 2000s, before the DREAM Act and DACA, both immigration policies that helped support the residency of the immigrants, American immigrants had a difficult time living a normal life once arriving in America. Majok, knowing this knowledge, wanted to illustrate this time era realistically and her previous works helped in her writing process: Ironbound (2014), Cost of Living (2016), and Queens (2018). 

As Majok created Sanctuary City, she wanted to ask various open-ended questions on the topics of the immigrant experience in America: 

Why risk coming to America when the streets aren’t safe? 

What happens to the individuals who do under-the-table jobs with no real chance for achieving a better life? 

How do you keep yourself safe in an environment where it doesn’t want you to? 

Providing questions that became difficult to answer overtime allowed Sanctuary City to become even more of an impactful and heart wrenching tale the audience didn’t expect at first glance.

Over the course of Sanctuary Citys’s run at its respected location at the New York Theatre Workshop, reviews after reviews of the show by The New York Times, New York Stage Review, amNY, TheaterMania, etc. praised Majok’s play on its outstanding approval, painting the difficulty of the immigration issues and realism even earning the play a NY Times Critic’s pick. 

“DREAMers. Love(r)s. Life-long friends. Negotiating the promise of safety and the weight of responsibility, they’ll fight like hell to establish a place for themselves and each other in America.” – New York Theater Workshop

“I have rarely seen a play that so effectively embodies the way external forces-in this case, immigration policies in the United States-distort the inner lives of actual humans.” – The New York Times

At a time of profound polarization on this delicate issue, Martyna Majok has given us something that transcends politics as only the best and most humane art can.” – New York Stage Review

“This is the kind of challenging and rewarding drama that dedicated theatergoers missed attending throughout the pandemic.” – AMNY

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Jariel Solas

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