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Dallas play ‘Ursula’ hopes to start conversation on unaccompanied minor influx in US

Through the lenses of a young girl, Frida Espinosa-Müller, wanted to humanize the current situation at the border.
Credit: Morgana Wilborn

DALLAS — Cara Mía Theater in Dallas will present "Ursula," a virtual world premiere, in partnership with Los Angeles Theater Company from May 20 to May 30.

Ursula focuses on 7-year-old Nadia’s journey from Central America to the United States. The hour-long play, written during the "zero tolerance" immigration policy, shows Nadia separated from her mother and placed in a separate facility for migrant youth.

RELATED: AP Exclusive: DOJ rescinds ‘zero tolerance’ immigration rule

“The play provides a human experience within the context of international and national policies,” said David Lozano, executive director of Cara Mía Theater.

Ursula is named after the colloquial name for the U.S. Border Patrol Central Processing Center located on Ursula Avenue in McAllen. 

Through the lenses of a young girl, Frida Espinosa-Müller wanted to humanize the current situation at the border and in facilities where unaccompanied minors are held. 

“What I tried to do with this piece was a reflection on the situation, it is very complicated,” said Espinosa-Müller, writer, performer and director of Ursula.

In 2018, Espinosa-Müller began to develop and research the situation at the border. She dug through articles, audio and video to develop the character of Nadia.

Plans for the play to tour were in the works until the pandemic. As Cara Mía Theater and the Latino Arts Project began to work on a virtual premiere, the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center was opened as an Emergency Intake Site for unaccompanied minors.

“It became a bigger project, it’s a bigger story than us,” said Jorge Baldor, founder of the Latino Arts Project, an organization focused on using art to create social awareness and impact in the community.

Baldor visited the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center and heard firsthand accounts from teens on their journey to the U.S.

RELATED: Staff member describes conditions inside facility for migrant teens in Dallas

“We have to have a bigger conversation not only about immigration but children coming unaccompanied,” said Baldor.

Espinosa-Müller said immigrations is complex and much of the issues seen today have been occurring for decades. She hopes people will watch the play and gain a new perspective.

“It is a challenging space to really have an open conversation with all political views but that is absolutely essential to be able to unpack the problem,” said Lozano.