By Cynthia Tong
To enhance your experience of PlayCo’s upcoming production of Recent Alien Abductions, written and directed by Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas, we welcome our community to join us every weekend for free “teach-ins” on current issues about the play’s setting, Puerto Rico.
Our inspiration for this unique series is the Puerto Rico Syllabus, a user-friendly, in-depth guide and robust resource for teaching and learning about the debt crisis facing Puerto Rico and the impact of its colonial history. Developed by project leaders Frances Négron-Muntaner, Sarah Muir, Yarimar Bonilla, Marisol Lebrón, and Sarah Milnari, the syllabus came out of the Unpayable Debt working group at Columbia and was created “to raise critical questions about the role of debt in contemporary capitalism; the relationship between debt, migration, and violence; and the emergence of new political and cultural identities.”(1) Inspired by other collective projects using the hashtag syllabi movement, it is the first in a series that explores the effects of crippling debt in several different cities and locations. The syllabus is broken down into several topics, with each including key texts (along with summaries) and tools for those familiar and unfamiliar with issues faced by Puerto Rico. There are texts included in English and Spanish.
Come join us for the Idea Lab series, which will run as pre-show events alongside our performances of Recent Alien Abductions. This is a chance for you to hear from and engage directly with the experts, a few of whom have contributed to the development of the syllabus.
We will be hosting five installments, each surrounding a different topic and in the coming weeks we will be posting introductions to each of our Idea Lab moderators on The HUB, as well as curated recommended reading, so stay tuned! Please join us for one or all of these lively discussions:
(Deep) Roots of the Debt Crisis: the Colonial Context
Led by: Marisol LeBrón, Assistant Professor in Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at the University of Texas, Austin
When: Saturday, March 2 at 4:30PM
This seminar provides the historical context and looks at the foundations of the social, political, and economical identities that define Puerto Rico and its debt crisis.
The Debt Crisis Era: How did Puerto Rico become one of the most indebted places in the world?
Led by: Ed Morales, Journalist, author and adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
When: Saturday, March 9 at 4:30PM
An overview and discussion asking the question, “How did Puerto Rico become one of the most indebted places in the world?”
The Impact of Hurricane Maria – How the devastation was not a “natural” disaster
Led by: Huáscar Robles, Journalist, photographer and documentarian
When: Sunday, March 10 at 12PM
Learn about the political, environmental, and economic factors that led to vast degree of devastation that Puerto Rico experienced as a result of Hurricane Maria.
The “Emptying Island” – how mass migrations are reconfiguring Puerto Rico and the U.S.
Led by: Frances Negrón-Muntaner, Award-winning filmmaker, writer, and scholar
When: Saturday, March 16 at 4:30PM
As mass migrations continue off the island of Puerto Rico, this installment takes a dive into how they are reconfiguring both Puerto Rico and the United States.
Debtless Futures – How the crisis is producing new ways of thinking and acting in the world.
Led by: Monxo López, researcher, professor, cartographer, and South Bronx-based environmental and urban justice activist
When: Saturday, March 23 at 4:30PM
Puerto Rico’s debt crisis and the aftermath of Hurricane Maria is producing new ways of thinking and acting in the world.
These events are open to the public and FREE. Ticket purchase to the performance is not required. Seating will be on a first come, first served basis according to availability.
1: Puerto Rico Syllabus. https://puertoricosyllabus.com