In 2004 16-year-old Edgar Chocoy, an undocumented minor, pleaded with a U.S. court not to deport him to Guatemala. “If I go back, they’ll kill me.” “De Novo: Done Esta La Salida? (Where Is the Exit?),” a documentary theater piece about undocumented minors seeking asylum from U.S. immigration custody, tells the story of the case that challenged the conscience of a nation. Crafted from immigration court transcripts, interviews, and letters, “De Novo,” a production of Houses on the Moon Theater Company, plays for four performances, Saturday and Sunday, September 10 and 11, and 17 and 18, presented by Passage Theater Company, at the Mill Hill Playhouse in Trenton.

Written and directed by Jeffrey Solomon, with images by acclaimed photojournalist Donna DeCesare, the play will feature Jose Aranda, Lina Gallegos, Mauricio Leyton, and Emily Weiner.

In 2002, at the age of 14, Chocoy fled Guatemala to escape the largest gang in Central America. He traveled over 3,000 miles, across the borders of three countries, in search of his mother, who came to the United States to find work. Detained by the Department of Homeland Security, he asked a federal judge to grant him asylum and not deport him to Guatemala, where he was certain the gang he escaped would kill him.

According to a press statement, “De Novo” chronicles the gripping true story of Chocoy and provides a rare glimpse into the life of an “unaccompanied alien minor.” Each year, thousands of these children make the dangerous journey across the border and through the U.S. justice system. “De Novo’s” run Off Broadway was hailed as “riveting” by Show Business Weekly, “with superb acting and directing. . . A well-crafted, intimate production.”

“We are proud to be presenting this story in Trenton as part of our 25th season,” says Passage Theater’s executive artistic director June Ballinger. “It speaks directly to our mission to embrace the city’s culturally diverse citizens and to foster understanding in our community.” Post show talkbacks will be held after each performance with members of the creative team and Aryah Somers, an immigration attorney representing unaccompanied minors in deportation proceedings.

“De Novo: Donde Esta la Salida? (Where Is the Exit?),” Passage Theater, Saturdays, September 10 and 17, at 8 p.m., and Sundays, September 11 and 18, at 3 p.m., Mill Hill Playhouse, Front and Montgomery streets, Trenton. A documentary play crafted from immigration court transcripts, interviews, and letters tells the true story of 14-year-old Edgar Chocoy’s legal struggle to stay in the United States. Written and directed by Jeffrey Solomon. $20. 609-392-0766 or www.passagetheatre.org.

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