A Note about Citizens Market from playwright Cori Thomas
May 17th, 2018
This play is a very special to me because I wrote it as sort of an ode to my parents. If it weren’t for my parents, in general, I wouldn’t have been born. And if it weren’t for them, in specific, I would not have written this play. I am a first generation American. I am the child of immigrants. My father, who died in 2009, was from Liberia, West Africa. My mother is Brazilian. They spoke different languages, had different cultural practices, different ethnicities, they were also different races. My father was a diplomat, and I grew up living, and going to schools in the countries where he was stationed. Not only am I the child of immigrants. I know what it is to be an immigrant myself.
One day, I was in the supermarket on the upper west side in New York City, standing on a line waiting to be checked out, where a new employee was being trained. As I stood waiting my turn, watching her hands shake from nerves and fear, my mind flashed to my parents. My mother, in particular, arriving in New York City, as a young woman from Brazil, barely speaking a word of English. I thought about how brave she was to go to an unfamiliar land. How resilient and tolerant she was to have been willing to try to forge a new path where the food, the weather, the rhythm, the music, the language, the people, your life is not at all what she once knew. And how lonely she must have felt without her friends, her family, her community. And then I thought about how, in time, that “newness” disappeared, and the ways of the new land became as familiar to her as if she had been here forever.
These days her accent remains, but she doesn’t clutch a dictionary as if it is her lifeline. America became and has been her home for a long time now. I’ve learned from her and my father, that we all have something to offer each other and to take from each other. That is what I wrote this play wanting to express. It is my hope that you will leave this theater agreeing with me that I was lucky to have had parents whose existence is proof that we can all co-exist. I hope you walk out of this theater realizing that an America where everyone is not welcome to try to walk and work and live alongside those already here, is not America.
Dedicated to my mother, Zuleika Ivelone Santos Vaz Andrade Thomas