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The New Colossus

12 refugees

12 languages

12 eras

1 border

THE NEW COLOSSUS tells the story of who we are as a nation. Through this intensely physical production, 12 actors tell their ancestors' stories, their journeys from oppression to freedom. Performed in twelve languages with live music, poetry, and kinetic movement, the play concludes with a question – who are we as a nation right now?

Set between 1864 and today, THE NEW COLOSSUS is an homage to the strength, resilience, and dignity of the immigrants and refugees that risked their lives to find a better life.

“I live in Los Angeles, where one can only be struck by the contributions made to our city by immigrants and people who came here as refugees. The Actors’ Gang felt compelled to respond to the government’s anti-refugee and anti-immigration policies – and to tell a story that draws attention to the true nature of people that live in this country. Save for the Native Americans, all of our families came here as refugees, immigrants or slaves. The characters in the piece all seem different, from different parts of the world, traveling at different times – but the stories are remarkably the same: the common experience of all refugees is that they are fleeing some kind of oppression and moving toward safety and hopefully, freedom. Our hope is that we will be able to illuminate the courage, fortitude and humor of all refugees, and, perhaps, our own family.”

—Director Tim Robbins


THE NEW COLOSSUS shares a title with the sonnet written by poet Emma Lazarus in 1883 for an exhibit to raise funds for the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty, which opened in 1886. Even though the Statue of Liberty was not conceived as a symbol of immigration, Lazarus’ “The New Colossus” reinvented the statue’s purpose, turning Liberty into a welcoming mother, a symbol of hope to the outcasts and oppressed of the world.


“Compelling, immediate and involving. Director Tim Robbins hits a home run with this powerful, engrossing piece of impressionistic theater, a work that’s both ferociously political and thrillingly evocative…over and over, the production defies expectations. It’s never sentimental, but instead crackles with urgency and tension.”
— Paul Birchall, Stage Raw

“At a time when history is being warped by demagoguery, THE NEW COLOSSUS holds a theatrical mirror to the nation.”
— Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times

“One must applaud Tim Robbins and his Actors' Gang troupe for their passionate, timely presentation of the immigrant plight in their struggles to reach a better life in America … a performance art piece with the vital message of inclusion.”
— Gil Kaan, Broadwayworld.com

“Fascinating … a moving, indelibly affecting performance.”
— Travis Michael Holder, TicketHoldersLA.com