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Documented Immigration

Illegal aliens and Sesame Street? What's the connection? Carlo Alban explains in his one-man show Intringulis. His family came to the United States from Ecuador when he was 7 years old. The parents and two of their children entered on a tourist visa and stayed, which began Carlo's life as an outlaw — and an undocumented worker who nonetheless appeared on Sesame Street and other shows.

  Dressed casually in jeans and a black T-shirt, Alban appears on a nearly empty stage. There are two guitars, some steps and a large framed glass window. A projection screen in the rear features Alban family photos and song translations during the performance. Alban played guitar and sang with spirit, and the songs had a way of highlighting his struggle to fit in.

  Part of the struggle was financial, and at one point, using the window like a chalkboard, he presented a calculation of the amount his family spent over more than a dozen years to become full citizens. Money went to applications, fees, bureaucrats and even a bribe. Furthermore, undocumented immigrants pay taxes but they don't get credit for contributing to Social Security because their numbers are false.

  Throughout the piece there was a sense of irony. At one point, Alban was terrified because his papers were not in order, but the projector that was supposed to display them was broken, so he squeaked by. He offered an amusing anecdote about a demonstration at the equator: Supposedly a basin placed directly over the equator drains water straight down. If the bowl is moved 2 feet to the north, the water swirls clockwise. If it's moved two feet south of the equator, the water swirls counterclockwise. Amazing! Except, as Alban tells us, this is all a scam to sell tickets to tourists. In reality, the tour director secretly tilts the sink one way or other.

  There are, of course, much more ominous themes. A brother who stayed in Ecuador eventually comes to visit. Carlo realizes he and his brother have become estranged over time and distance. Whether he's legal or not, his new home has changed his point of view.

  The show was aptly directed by David Anzuelo. Robert Kaplowitz handled the sound design. — Dalt Wonk


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