ExPats Theatre was founded in Washington, D.C. in 2019 and is devoted to connecting people across cultures through theatre and the performing arts.

"Surfacing: An Inventory of Helplessness" runs September 12-29, 2019 at the ATLAS Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street NE, Washington, DC

In this play by Russian/Austrian writer Julya Rabinowich and translated into English by Karin Rosnizeck, three characters live in captivity: a female refugee (A) hiding underground, fearing deportation, and traumatized by her journey across cultures, a kidnap victim (B) locked in a basement at the mercy of her perpetrator, and a young man (C) imprisoned in his own home due to the threat of blood revenge against his family. Each is trapped, isolated, and unable to surface or take part in everyday life. The play explores their mental states, survival strategies, and the way their minds work through cycles of hope, fear, anger, and desperation. In a world where millions of people are fleeing oppression and dealing with hopelessness, this thought-provoking production opens our eyes to the plight of the marginalized, dispossessed, and downtrodden.

Rabinowich was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and emigrated to Vienna, Austria at age seven. Her texts challenge what former International Organization for Migration director-general William Lacy Swing calls the "toxic narrative" of transnational refugees as the root cause of economic, political, and social crises and the current tendency to turn victims of terror into terrorists themselves. Instead, Rabinowich transforms this narrative by revealing the migrant experiences of trauma, persecution, and displacement. Here are some background readings and videos on global migration and the plight of refugees.


Director: Karin Rosnizeck
Choreographer: Erica Rebollar at Rebollar Dance
Lighting Director: Ian Claar

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What DC Theatre Scene Said about the Capital Fringe Festival Production
(full review here)

"a meditation on a condition" ... "love and torture are inexplicably intertwined" ... "the furtherest thing from a comedy" ... "vegetables are nourishing, too, and we may need a few more of them in our diet" (Tim Treanor)

What Audiences Said about the Capital Fringe Festival Production (based on post-performance surveys)


"riverting performances" ... "thought-provoking" ... "great actors" ... "loved the way video and music integrated into the production" ... "thoughtful piece about our current state of affairs" ... "awesome" ... "its study of the human condition is fascinating and very well done" ... "very moving" ... "everyone was in sync and it flowed beautifully" ... "interesting explanation on helplessness" ... "very powerful" ... "timely for contemporary discussions of refugees" ... "80% recommend the play to friends"

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Cast: Nichole Chimere (A), Christine Jacobs (B), and Greg Ongao (C)


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Performance Times

ATLAS Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street NE, Washington, DC:

Wednesday, September 11, 8 p.m. (preview)
Thursday, September 12, 8 p.m. (opening)
Friday, September 13, 8 p.m.
Saturday, September 14, 3 p.m.
Saturday, September 14, 8 p.m.
Sunday, September 15, 3 p.m.
Thursday, September 19, 8 p.m.
Friday, September 20, 8 p.m.
Saturday, September 21, 3 p.m.
Saturday, September 21, 8 p.m.
Sunday, September 22, 3 p.m.
Thursday, September 26, 8 p.m.
Friday, September 27, 8 p.m.
Saturday, September 28, 3 p.m.
Saturday, September 28, 8 p.m.
Sunday, September 29, 3 p.m. (closing)

Tickets are available through ATLAS Performing Arts Center.

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