Set in a run-down hotel in 1974, only months after the start of the infamous Pinochet regime, eight Chilean refugees struggle, at times haplessly, at times profoundly, to decide if fleeing their homeland means they have abandoned their friends and responsibilities or not. Laid bare in the fictionalized autobiographical details of this Jessie Award-winning play are the universal truths the victims and survivors of political oppression continue to experience everywhere: the terror of persecution, arrest and torture; the exhausted elation of escape; the trauma of learning to live again with the losses, betrayals and agonies of the past; the irrational guilt of the survivor – even the tragedy of surviving the nightmares of the past only to have them return to challenge any hope of the future. (From the Playwright’s Website)
Manuela – thirties in the present, eight in the past
Joselito – ten
Fat Jorge – father of Manuelita and Joselito, thirties
Flaca – mother of Manuelita and Joselito, thirties
Isabel – Calladita, early twenties
Cristina – Cakehead, eighteen
Manuel (Condor Passes), seventeen
Juan (of the Chickens), early twenties
Bill O’Neill – mid-twenties
Receptionist – Jackie, sixties
Social Worker – Pat Keleman, thirties
Male Cueca Dancer
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How far would you be willing to go to fight for what you believe in? And what does the aftermath of surrender look like? Aguirre explores this through a dysfunctional ‘family’ that is created when a group of refugees staying at a hotel bond through shared trauma, political leanings, and memories of home. The Refugee Hotel is the perfect setting for these characters, who’s new home is not really ‘home’ yet but more of a purgatory where they must face their anger, pride, guilt, and PTSD. Aguirre artfully plays with translation, intertwining equally ‘bad’ Spanish and English to give Anglophone audiences a richer understanding of the frustrating and humourous language barriers faced by those in exile. Even though this play is set during the 70’s, Refugee Hotel is still relevant to the refugee crises of today. - Collette