MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Kafka’s The Trial in Seattle’s Ellis Island

Greta Wilson, Sara Mountjoy-Pepka, Sydney Andrews, and Darragh Kennan in The Trial; photo credit: Chris Bennion/New Century Theatre Company

Greta Wilson, Sara Mountjoy-Pepka, Sydney Andrews, and Darragh Kennan in The Trial; photo credit: Chris Bennion/New Century Theatre Company

Coming up early next month is a workshop of a new chamber opera by Sarah Mattox, Heart Mountain, presented by Vespertine Opera Theater. This will take place in the site-specific space of the repurposed INS building in Seattle. Here’s a piece I wrote a couple years ago about another theater work that made use of that space for an adaptation of Kafka’s The Trial:

Arbitrary, inscrutable bureaucratic authorities with the power to determine individual fates. The tension of not knowing. The cruelly frustrating uncertainty of the whole process. In spite of the trappings of reality, life’s daily rituals twisted into a surreal waiting game.

That’s an impressionistic précis of Franz Kafka’s The Trial in the brand-new theatrical adaptation currently being presented by New Century Theatre Company. But it could also describe what generations of immigrants who hoped to become U.S. citizens experienced while being detained in the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Building located south of the ID and east of Century Link Field.

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