In a darkened theater, silhouette traverse the stage lit by a projection of a desert landscape. Sounds of English and Spanish voices blend with helicopters and mariachi bands. A barbed-wire barrier appears and disappears. Scripted from the tears and laughter of volunteer participants, The Divide/La Division, a theatrical piece by the Imagists, boldly portrays real border-crossing experiences of immigrants living in Sonoma County.
In 2007, twelve groups were invited to address the theme of Crossing Borders for Performance Sonoma, a county-wide arts festival. The Community Foundation grant enabled Imagists’ directors Brent Lindsay and Amy Pinto to reach out and inventively engage non-actors for their bilingual, community-based production. The Healdsburg performances attracted unprecedented Latino and Anglo audiences and ignited intense dialogue.
“Artistically, we burst through the stratosphere,” says Brent, “In terms of audience- building, we definitely attracted new eyes.” The Imagists are expanding the vision of their 20-year-old collaborative organization. They see other community- based projects — a bilingual company, more partnerships with schools, programs for youth who take roads less traveled — and engaging new supporters passionate about the power of art to change lives. They hope to instill a cultural and aesthetic sense of local pride through theater that crosses borders, embraces diversity and promotes understanding.