Theatre UAB presents “Sanctuary City” from March 6-10

Audiences are in for an unconventional experience in this brisk 90-minute show, which uses citizenship and documentation to speak on identity, belonging and privilege and is shaped by the actors’ own heritage.

700C76ED 03ED 4D38 BE69 BC8B68AD6BECTheatre UAB will present Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Martyna Majok’s unforgettable account of two young immigrants, “Sanctuary City,” from March 6-10 at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The characters, named “B” and “G” and brought to America as children, face criminalization of their very existence and are fighting to establish a place for themselves and each other in America. The play’s overarching struggle is for citizenship and finding the place we belong and can call home. “Sanctuary City” speaks on the ripples of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, not for American citizens, but for immigrants and undocumented people. While many remember the immediate aftermath of these attacks as a period of American unity, others were subjected to a sharp increase in xenophobia and threats to their presence in the country.  

Theatre UAB is the performance company of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Theatre.  

This play contains strong language and mature themes. Performances are March 6-10 at 7:30 p.m. in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $15, $6 for students, and $10 for UAB employees and senior citizens. To purchase tickets, visit or call the Alys Stephens Center Box Office at 205-975-2787. 

“Sanctuary City” is directed by spring 2022 theater and Honors College graduate Bailey Dumlao. His award-winning directing submission for the 2022 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival of scenes from the play required extensive dramaturgical research into the immigration process.

A casting note from Majok for the play specifies, “The countries of origin can suit the actors chosen.” Theatre UAB’s small cast of Black, Puerto Rican and Ghanaian actors are creating a production that is distinct from any other production of this play, by Majok’s design, says Dumlao. The character descriptions and portions of the show are informed by these actors’ personal heritages.  

This production is a perfect example of the commitment by Theatre UAB to create more equitable opportunities and reexamine their practices. The play uses citizenship and documentation to speak on larger themes of identity, belonging and privilege. The Theatre UAB cast discussed their heritages with one another and planned a potluck of traditional foods — a great way to instantly create a community, says Dumlao, who is Filipino American.

“The opportunity to explore racial identity in a show that is shaped by the actors’ own heritage is a unique opportunity,” Dumlao said. “It is not a fresh coat of paint on a classic text, but a completely new space for the actors to carve out their place in the theatrical canon.”

Audiences are in for a very unconventional experience from start to finish. The script is bare-bones and open to interpretation, but very specific in its prop and scenic design requirements: almost nothing, with just two humans in an empty space. In its brisk 90-minute script, Majok asks the audience to look past the politics of citizenship to remind them that real, fully fledged human beings are at the core of these debates. The play is full of surprises and shocking revelations that will ignite discussion long after the show is over.