New Jersey Stage

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


(TRENTON, NJ) -- Passage Theatre Company, Trenton's only professional theater company, will present Houses on the Moon Theater Company's production of De Novo, a documentary theater piece about undocumented minors seeking asylum from U.S. immigration custody, for four performances only September 10, 11, 17 and 18 at the Mill Hill Playhouse, located at the corner of Front and Montgomery in downtown Trenton.

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

Sixteen year-old Edgar Chocoy pleaded with a U.S. court not to deport him to Guatemala. "If I go back, they'll kill me." This true story, crafted from immigration court transcripts, interviews and letters tells the story of the case that challenged the conscience of a nation.

In 2002, at the age of 14, Edgar 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 US 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.

De Novo chronicles the gripping true story of Edgar 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 at 59E59 Theaters was hailed as "Riveting" by Show Business Weekly, "with superb acting and directing...A well-crafted, intimate production."

Passage Theatre's Executive Artistic Director June Ballinger states "We are proud to be presenting this story in Trenton as part of our 25th season. 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 will be performed on Saturdays September 10 and 17 at 8pm, and on Sundays September 11 and 18 at 3pm. All tickets are $20 and $10 for students. For reservations call (609) 392-0766; visit online at; or in person at the Passage Theatre Office at 219 East Hanover Street in Trenton. Tickets are also available at the door one hour before each performance at the Mill Hill Playhouse.

For 25 years Passage has been the professional Actors Equity Theater with a mission to develop and produce boundary-pushing and stylistically adventurous new works for the theatre that entertain and challenge a diverse audience.  It is housed in the 100 seat Mill Hill Playhouse in the historic district of downtown Trenton. 
Passage's mainstage season is made possible in part by the NJ State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the NEA; the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; The Times of Trenton; Trenton Marriott at Lafayette Yard; the City of Trenton Dept. of Recreation, Natural Resources and Culture; WIMG 1300; PNC Bank; The Bunbury Company; The Mary Owen Borden Foundation; The Garfield Foundation; The Rose and Louis H. Linowitz Charitable Foundation: Princeton Area Community Foundation; Bank of America; Otsuka Pharmaceutical Group; Bloomberg; Community Foundation of New Jersey; NJ Council for the Humanities; Mary G. Roebling Foundation; and The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey.

De Novo’s harrowing story is accented by startling images by award-winning photojournalist Donna DeCesare, who is widely recognized for her groundbreaking coverage of the spread of Los Angeles gangs in Central America.