Scene from “New World”

In honor of International Women’s Day (March 8) and Women’s History Month (March), performances of an original one-act play about three refugee women in St. Louis are being shown free to the public.

“New World,” presented by Gitana Productions, tells the story of three refugees from Afghanistan, Bosnia and the Republic of the Congo. The play, by Lee Patton Chiles, is based on interviews and documented accounts of three women who came to St. Louis hoping to create a new world by healing old world wounds. Actors Vivian Anderson Watt, Jessica Alvarado and Natalie Walker performed the play to standing ovations in 2016. A Q & A session with the actors and representatives from the refugee community will follow each performance.

“’New World’ has returned to stage because of its relevance and power at a time when questions about immigration and acceptance of refugees continues to be controversial in America,” said Cecilia Nadal, executive director of Gitana Productions. “The play gives voice to women who make up the local refugee community and tells their stories. Most often, the policy debates we hear do not include the voices of women immigrants and refugees—they and their children are, in fact, the majority of those coming to the U.S.A.”

Gitana, a nonprofit arts and education organization, will present free, public performances of “New World” at the following locations*

St. Louis County Library Headquarters
Thursday, March 22, 7 p.m.
1640 S. Lindbergh Blvd.

St. Louis Central Library
Thursday, April 5, 7 p.m.
1301 Olive St. in downtown St. Louis

From a production of “New World”

Panelists of the Q & A session following each performance include:

  • Sandra Arumugam-Osburn, originally from Malaysia who received St. Louis Community College’s Teacher of the Year award and the Emerson Excellence in Teaching award.
  • Kristin Bulin, former executive director for the Center for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma, who led a team of mental health therapists, youth mentors and volunteers using integrative, mind-body therapeutic services for refugees and asylum seekers living in St. Louis.
  • Layla Azmi Goushey, an associate professor of English at St. Louis Community College, whose scholarly work is focused on Arab and Arab-American literature and culture.

*Additional public performances will be posted on