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Gary Soto (Berkeley) collaborating with The Marsh…a breeding ground for new performance (San Francisco)

Award: $40,000 Literary Arts Grant awarded in 2011

Premiered: February 2013

Writer Gary Soto collaborated with Marsh Youth Theater to create In and Out of Shadows, a new play about United States teenagers with undocumented immigration status. Dramatic material for the project was collected by Marsh Youth Theater teens trained in oral history methods by stage director Cliff Mayotte. Subjects for these oral histories came from four youth organizations to which the students had connections: The AB540 clubs at San Francisco City College and Leadership High School in Richmond; ASPIRE (Asian Students Promoting Immigration and Reform); and the South of Market Community Action Network.

Lead writer Gary Soto is the author of more than 40 books of poetry and fiction—including young adult fiction based on his experiences growing up in the San Joaquin Valley as the son of farmworkers. He developed the plot and characters for In and Out of Shadows from an amalgam of the stories collected by the youth and shaped the piece for young performers with Marsh Youth Theater director Emily Klion, and dramaturg David Ford. In and Out of Shadows was performed by the Marsh Youth Theater teen troupe for three weeks in 2013 and most performances were sold-out.

Founded in 1989, the Marsh has received local, national, and international critical acclaim. Annually it presents nearly 600 performances on its four stages in San Francisco and Berkeley.