By Suehyla El-Attar
Nura, a refugee, clings to her soccer ball like a lifeline as she meets Sasha, a resettlement worker who is her guide to a strange new home in a small Southern town. But the welcome is mixed in this community reeling from a flood of newcomers—all refugees from around the world. A community meeting divides the town, and a soccer field becomes the battleground for its future.Will longtime residents and these eager new Americans learn to work together to find peace?
Inspired by real life events in nearby Clarkston, Georgia, playwright Suehyla El-Attar (Horizon’s The Perfect Prayer) uses her signature wit and optimism to look at a community in transition, and what happens when we must redefine and share our homes. A poignant new play from our own changing backyard.
Read the official Third Country press release.
Just a few miles from us here at Horizon, you will find Clarkston, GA – a small Southern town which unexpectedly became one of the most ethnically diverse towns in America. Over 50 languages are now spoken in just 1.1 square miles; one-third of the population is foreign born, and long-time residents live next door to refugees from around the world. The Clarkston Community Center hosts an annual World Refugee Celebration, Thrifttown Supermarket stocks foods from every corner of the globe, and The Clarkston International Bible Church and Masjid Al-Momineen are thriving religious centers. In less than two decades, Clarkston went from a mostly white Southern town to a community teaming with international residents. How did this happen? What challenges did the residents, the refugee newcomers, and the town face? What can we learn from a community struggling to embrace this kind of huge change?
Third Country is inspired by these real life events in Clarkston. It is a fictional story about a community in transition and what happens when we must redefine and share our home. In 2010, Horizon commissioned playwright Suehyla El-Attar (Horizon’s The Perfect Prayer, 2006) to write a play based on the town and its refugees. Suehyla researched, read, and interviewed residents and refugee resettlement workers over the next two years. The story that emerged features six characters who represent the major perspectives of the town: Nura, a Somalian refugee newcomer; Sasha, an idealistic resettlement worker; Asad, a Sudanese refugee on the verge of citizenship; Malcolm, the mayor caught in the conflicting needs of his town; Charlie, the grocer who employs and serves the refugees; and Mary-Margaret, the resettlement agency director charged with doing good with minimal funds. The play’s setting is the fictional town of Sidington, and real events that took place between 2003 and 2010 were compressed in time. As a first-generation American herself, Suehyla brings personal passion to the writing, as well as optimism and her signature wit.
Third Country was developed through Horizon’s New South Play Festival program, dedicated to creating new plays from, for, and about our community and the contemporary South. We seek out stories that are unique to our community and commission writers to create those plays for the stage—plays that reflect Horizon’s mission of connecting people, inspiring hope, and promoting positive change through the stories of our times. This play is also part of Horizon’s decade-long journey of producing new plays that connect our community to the world through theatre, including plays about Afghanistan, Iraq, South Africa, Darfur, and the Muslim community here in Atlanta. We are grateful to The MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which funded the commissioning and development of the play, to the individuals who helped fund the play by contributing to the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs power2give.org program, and to our play sponsor, Macy’s Foundation.
The face of our American communities is changing rapidly today. New immigrants from around the world are moving into our towns and suburbs transforming them into multi-cultural and multilingual centers. We all must adapt to life in this new America. How do we learn to live alongside others with different cultures, beliefs, and needs? We hope the play inspires you to explore those possibilities in your own community.
Ask and listen. Ask and listen.
Please join us after the play today for our “third act”—a chance to reflect on the play, meet a special guest, and of course, share your thoughts and your own experiences.
Lisa Adler, Co-Artistic/Producing Director & Director/Dramaturg, Third Country
September 20 – October 24, 2013
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday at 8:00 PM
Saturday at 3:00 PM and 8:30 PM
Sunday at 5:00 PM
Tuesday, September 22 at 10:30 AM
Thursday, September 24 at 10:30 AM
$20 – $30*
*Ticket prices are subject to availability. 8% sales tax will be added to all ticket orders.
Playwright – Suehyla El-Attar
Directors – Lisa Adler
Scenic Designers – Isabel A. Curley-Clay & Moriah Curley-Clay
Lighting Designer – Mary Parker
Sound Designer – Thom Jenkins
Costume Designer – Sydney Roberts
Prop Designers – Kate Bidwell LaFoy
Stage Manager – Julianna M. Lee*
*Member of Actors’ Equity Association
“At the heart of Third Country is the need for humanity to all just get along.”
“You don’t want to miss this powerful show with pops of humor that reflects a current world.”
-Busking at the Seams
Creative Loafing – A Critic’s Notebook: Children, legendary and otherwise
Atlanta Journal-Constituation – 5 Plays for Fall
Atlanta Journal-Constituation – Clarkston refugees inspire ‘Third Country’ at Horizon Theatre
WABE – Clarkston United: Horizon Theatre’s “Third Country”
Busking at the Seams – Third Country writer gets the third degree
Busking at the Seams – Opening of Third Country Exceeds Expectations
Atlanta Theater Fans – Review
Encore Atlanta – Snapshot of Eric J. Little
Saporta Report – Transformed by Refugees, Clarkston takes stage in ‘Third Country
Following each performance, join us for a dialogue facilitated by Welcoming America and CDF: A Collective Action Initiative. Discussion will also highlight special guests from Clarkston, the refugee community, and the real story that inspired the play. The series is sponsored by One Region, an initiative of The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.
Horizon will host a marketplace of goods made by refugee women during select performances. Goods are from the Refugee Sewing Society and Peace of Thread, organizations which empower refugee women to make a new life for themselves by teaching sewing and artisan skills as well as providing social and English language support.