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The Refugee Hotel

The Refugee Hotel
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Carmen Aguirre
Publisher: Talonbooks
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 128
Pub. Date: 2010
ISBN-10: 889226504
ISBN-13: 9780889226500

About the Play:

The Refugee Hotel is a full-length drama by Carmen Aguirre. Set in a run-down hotel in 1974, only months after the start of the infamous Pinochet regime, eight Chilean refugees struggle, at times haplessly, at times profoundly, to decide if fleeing their homeland means they have abandoned their friends and responsibilities or not. Capturing the immigrant and exile experience in Canada, this play is Carmen Aguirre's attempt to give voice to refugee communities from all corners of the globe.

The Refugee Hotel is based on playwright Carmen Aguirre's own experiences arriving in Canada with her parents after the bloody 1973 military coup that toppled the government of Salvador Allende in Chile. Two events gave birth to this play: the 1998 arrest of Augusto Pinochet by the Spanish courts and the 1995 death of Aguirre's uncle, who drank himself to death on Vancouver's skid row, never living to make a victorious return to his country. It has taken decades of silence for Aguirre to understand and come to terms with her family's experience as refugees and exiles: "The few times we spoke about it to other people, we were accused of being pathological liars and being crazy," she says of those years. "We learned never to talk about what was happening in Chile. From the moment when I told some classmates very matter-of-factly in grade two that my stepfather and some of my family members had just come out of a concentration camp that was the national soccer stadium, I was Crazy Carmen." Laid bare in the fictionalized autobiographical details of The Refugee Hotel are the universal truths the victims and survivors of political oppression continue to experience everywhere: the terror of persecution, arrest and torture; the exhausted elation of escape; the trauma of learning to live again with the losses, betrayals and agonies of the past; the irrational guilt of the survivor – even the tragedy of surviving the nightmares of the past only to have them return to challenge any hope of a future.

The Refugee Hotel premiered in 2009 at Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto. Since then the play had regional premieres at professional theatres across Canada and has been performed in college theatre productions as a showcase of student talent.

Cast: 5 women, 5 men, 3 others

What people say:

"A powerful new play." — CBC Radio

"A humorous and heartbreaking look at life in exile." — Mark Taper Forum (Los Angeles)

"Four-star hotel ... This moving, often engrossing play paints rich portraits of eight refugees: some tortured, some fearful, all defiant ... a production to catch for its theatrical strengths and historic insights ... triumphant." — NOW magazine

"Full of wonder and terror ... The battle between courage and cowardice looms large here; duty to one's self or to one's people is a constant internal compromise ... humorous ... heartbreaking." — EYE Weekly

About the Playwright:

Carmen Aguirre is a Chilean-Canadian author, actor, and playwright, a Core Artist at Vancouver's Electric Company Theatre, who has worked extensively in North and South America. She has written and co-written over twenty plays. As an actor, she has over eighty film, television, and stage acting credits.

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