When They Came

The citizens of an ordinary town reconstruct the events surrounding an alien relocation that did not go as planned. When the desire to embrace a new population conflicts with the desire to protect familiar traditions, what do we choose? Can we have both? The citizens defend their actions, interrogate each other, and ultimately confront their deepest hopes and fears as they struggle to agree, as a community, on...
The citizens of an ordinary town reconstruct the events surrounding an alien relocation that did not go as planned. When the desire to embrace a new population conflicts with the desire to protect familiar traditions, what do we choose? Can we have both? The citizens defend their actions, interrogate each other, and ultimately confront their deepest hopes and fears as they struggle to agree, as a community, on how their hospitable intentions resulted in disaster for the incomers. Part story theatre, part sci-fi fantasy, this ensemble piece is based on Debbie Urbanski’s short story, "When They Came to Us," which was published in The Sun Magazine and appears in Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017.
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When They Came

Recommended by

  • Skye Robinson Hillis:
    2 Mar. 2018
    This is a truly beautiful play. Moving, lyrical, strange, engaging. Like an extraterrestrial OUR TOWN. And like OUR TOWN, it packs a hell of a punch at the end. I have not read anything else quite like it.
  • Jordan Elizabeth Henry:
    2 Feb. 2018
    "We find ourselves wondering, [...] If they weren't here, would we be better people?" ---- A chilling, haunting close look at what humans are capable of doing to Others, from exoticizing them to "reprogramming" them to, ultimately, destroying them. This is the power of science fiction: it casts light on the darkest corners of our human nature. Cozzola's adaptation of Urbanski's short story is breathtaking -- grand theatricality that would work as well in a no-set black box production or with elaborate sets and costuming. WHEN THEY CAME is a truly special work of theatre that will stick with you.
  • Brian James Polak:
    31 Jan. 2018
    This is such a great play and fantastic adaptation of a short story. The play is deep, funny, wonderfully theatrical, and so relevant. It is science fiction, but don't let the arrival of space aliens fool you. This play is as much about our time and place as anything you'll see.

Development History

  • Workshop
    ,
    Piven Theatre
    ,
    2018
  • Reading
    ,
    Chicago Dramatists
    ,
    2017