About the Grant

$20,000 to support Kafka in Postville (MAP 2011), a new collaborative theater piece by Jeremy Wilhelm, Victoria Stewart, and Cory Hinkle of Wilhelm Bros. & Co.

About the Project

Kafka in Postville—by Minneapolis-based director and designer Jeremy Wilhelm, writers Cory Hinkle and Victoria Stewart, and composer and multi-instrumentalist David Wilhelm—investigates immigration reform, small-town politics, and religious fundamentalism within the context of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid of Agriprocessors Inc., a Kosher slaughterhouse in a small Iowa farm town. The performance will be underscored with live incidental music drawing on Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jewish traditions, Guatemalan folk music, local-television news theme songs, Lutheran hymns, and original variations and juxtapositions of these themes. Kafka in Postville will be about the ethics of interpretation, from courtroom proceedings to the family dinner table.

The ICE sting operation on the family-owned slaughterhouse devastated the workforce, the families left behind by deported immigrants, and a local economy that had become dependent on the plant. The community that at first resented the Hasidic cloister of the Chabad-Lubavitch sect had been fully revitalized by it, but after the raid returned to an attitude of suspicion and blame.

There are many areas of concern in Postville: the economic, environmental, and ethical concerns of meat processing and techniques for slaughter; the sociopolitical turmoil of both legal and illegal immigrant labor; the cultural and religious divide between Hasidic Jews and the communities where they live; and the new influx of Somalian labor from the Twin Cities that attempted to fill the gap left by hundreds of deportees. So much of the media coverage surrounding this town has focused on the clash of cultures, which has spurred Postville’s creators to find points of contact, lucidity, and ways of moving forward.


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