De Novo


On the streets of Guatemala City,
Gang members were Edgar’s only family…
But he dreamed of a different future.
To leave the gang was a death sentence.
Coming to the USA was his last hope.

De Novo provides a rare glimpse into the lives of the many thousands of children who make the harrowing journey across the border and through the U.S. immigration system each year. This documentary play, crafted entirely from immigration court transcripts, interviews and letters tells the gripping true story of fourteen year old Edgar Chocoy and his legal struggle to be allowed to stay in the United States.

“Moving. Dramatically potent. It held me in its grip. Solomon achieves one of the great strengths of documentary theater: its capacity to shake what we know or believe to be true.”
– Village Voice

“A powerful piece of political theater … that quietly collides American ideals with the experiences of real people marked as other in this country. Deftly directed by Mr. Solomon for Houses on the Moon Theater Company, De Novo is created entirely from actual documents — including court transcripts, interviews and letters – it makes compelling dialogue, which is rendered tenderly human by its cast.”
The New York Times

“De Novo successfully humanizes a very big problem by telling us a single, simple story. Gripping. Heart-wrenching and important … It rings loud and true. It inspires.”
Theatre is Easy

Contact us to bring De Novo to your community.

Artistic Team

Written/Curated/Directed by Jeffrey Solomon
Additional Development by Jose Aranda and Emily Joy Weiner
With translation by Alex Escalante, Jose Aranda, Carlo D’Amore and Paola Poucel
Tour Directed by Carlo D’Amore

Design Team

59E59 Theater Production, 2010

Set Design: Alex Escalante
Lighting Design: Michael Kimmel and Lisa Weinshrott
Composer/Sound Design: Andrew Ingkavet
Costumes: Arnulfo Moldanano
Projections: Donna DeCesare
4 Migration Images: Alan Pogue
Translation: Paola Poucel
Stage Management: Sarah Fujiwara
Assistant Stage Management: Melissa Buffaloe
Assistant Producer: Andrew Ronan

Next Door at NY Theater Workshop Production, 2017

Slides/Projections/Photography: Donna DeCesare
Set Design: Lawrence Moten
Sound Design: Andrew Ingkavet
Lighting Design: Christina Watanabe
Costume Design: Genevieve Beller


Core Cast

Zuleyma Guevara

Ms. Guevara’s stage credits include the latest performance run of DE NOVO, the world premiere of UNCOMMON SENSE for Tectonic Theatre Project. Theater credits include the New Jersey premier of Water by the Spoonful, Columbia Stages’ La Paloma Prisoner and The Hour of The Star, the world premier of SEVEN SPOTS ON THE SUN at the Cincinnati Playhouse and Working Theatres production of LA RUTA. TV/Film credits include SONIA’S CHOICE for the #imhere campaign, LEGEND OF THE 13 SUNS for Kraft, LAW & ORDER, CBS pilot LIMITLESS, Fox’s GOTHAM-THE RED QUEEN, ROPE ART, DANNY BOY, NEW YORK STATE OF MIND and the soon to be released THIRD TRINITY.

Manny Ureña

Manny Ureña is an actor of Dominican descent, born and raised in Corona, Queens. He fell in love with the creative process while studying acting at prestigious William Esper Studio in New York City. Notable credits include De Novo (Next Door at NYTW) Blue Bloods (CBS), See You Yesterday (Netflix), Pimp (starring Keke Palmer) and a major supporting role in the upcoming indie feature Barrio Boy.

Camilo Almonacid

Camilo Almonacid is a multi-talented artist based in New York City with over ten years of experience creating dynamic stories that explore the diverse voices of America. Some of his notable plays include The Assignment (A.R.T/NY Theatres 2017), Westpine Myopes (Rita Goldberg Award 2014), Checkin In (Irv Zarkower Award 2012), For the Flies (Here Arts 2015), Church Of Why Not (Theatre 167 2015), After the Crowds (Queen’s Museum, NY times Critics Pick 2014), and Shithole (Here Arts 2010). In addition to being a playwright, he is also a skilled freelance writer who has collaborated on branded content projects with major media outlets like Netflix, Remezcla,  and Vice Media. Camilo Almonacid holds a BFA in acting from Rutgers University and an MFA in Playwriting from Hunter College. He is a proud member of the Dramatist Guild. You can find more information about his work at

Paola Poucel

Paola Poucel is an actress, singer, and voiceover artist and is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC. Her career began in Mexico at the Theater Company of the State of Puebla in classics like Fuenteovejuna, Otelo, and The Would Be Gentleman. Other favorite credits include: Fame (Serena) and Notredame de Paris (Fleur du Lys). Paola has starred in original new works like the opera rock Amusia in Salamanca Spain, and the experimental plays Esperadoras and Losers. In New York she has participated in numerous theater projects including: De Novo (Kim Salinas), Cinderella (Cinderella), Interpreting a Dream (Ivania) and Rosa de Dos Aromas (Gabriela) . Overseas productions include: El Sexo del Che in Buenos Aires, Argentina and the Spanish version of De Novo in San Salvador, El Salvador. After several short films, her feature debut Ilegales premiered at the 2010 HBO Latino Film Festival to great reviews. The film is now available on DVD, Netlix and Amazon. After a sucessful run in the festival circuit, her most recent shortfilm Text Amy (which she starred and produced) is part of the rotation of the “Emerging Latino Filmmakers” at FUSE TV. Furthermore, Paola has developed a distinctive voiceover career working for brands such as Kmart, Aveeno, TD Bank, Nickelodeon’s Dora and Friends, Dora the Explorer, Payless, Cricket Wireless, Neutrogena, Nintendo, Subway, DSW, Publix and Microsoft. Paola is also a member of SAG-AFTRA, IFP, and NYWIFT.

Emily Joy Weiner

Co-Founder & Artistic Director

Emily Joy Weiner is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Houses on the Moon Theater Company, a NYC based 501c3 not for profit. Since the company’s inception in 2001 she has been creating, developing, performing, producing and directing new works that address the complex and sensitive issues of our time. Emily has been a facilitator of creative theater making workshops throughout the NYC public school system for the past 25 years, specializing in programs with teenagers and young adults going through the criminal justice system.  In most recent years Emily directed the Off-Broadway production of THE SANTA CLOSET at Teatro Circulo, guided the company through its production of DE NOVO at Next Door at NYTW, directed the world premiere of THE ASSIGNMENT at the ART/New York Theatres and continues to guide the touring, live storytelling production of gUN COUNTRY. She has performed all over NYC and beyond with some highlights including OTHELLO at the West End Theater, COMING THROUGH at the American Place Theatre, FINDING THE WORDS at the Lucille Lortel, AN EPIDOG with Mabou Mines and FEFU AND HER FRIENDS at Williamstown Theatre Festival. She co-developed and toured a one-woman adaptation of Faulkner’s AS I LAY DYING with the late Wynn Handman of The American Place Theatre whom she studied with for many years. The League of Professional Theatre Women recently honored Emily with the Josephine Abady award for her work with Houses in the creation of multicultural works. Her play, SHARED SENTENCES, had its Off Broadway world premiere in Fall 2022.



Jose Aranda
Carlo D’Amore
Socorro Santiago
Emily Joy Weiner


Paola Poucel
Socorro Santiago
Arturo Castro
Mauricio Leyton


Manny Urena
Zuleyma Guevara
Camilo Almonacid
Emily Joy Weiner


Rudy De La Cruz
J.J. Perez
Susanna Guzman
Annie Henk
Carlo Alban
Sol Miranda
John Concado
Jesse Perez

Get help, Take action

NYC Resources

Central American Legal Assistance – Central American Legal Assistance (CALA) provides free or low-cost legal services to New York’s immigrant community.

The Door – The Door’s mission is to empower young people to reach their potential by providing comprehensive youth development services in a diverse and caring environment.

Lawyers for Children – In addition to free legal and social work services for children in foster care, Lawyers For Children provides targeted public policy and class action advocacy to achieve system-wide changes in the field of child welfare.

Legal Aid Society of Rockland County – Since 1966, Legal Aid Society of Rockland County, Inc. (LASRC) has provided free civil legal services to Rockland County, New York residents who cannot afford private attorneys.

NYSDA Immigrant Defense Project – IDP engages in targeted litigation, primarily before the federal courts, in support of challenges to deportations and other adverse immigration consequences based on criminal convictions and arrests.

Safe Passage Immigration Project – SPIP makes referrals to immigration attorneys in Long Island, NYC, and some upstate counties.

Justice Action Center – JAC is dedicated to fighting for greater justice for immigrant communities by combining litigation and storytelling.

National Organizations that Provide Assistance/Referrals

Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) – pro-bono partnership pairing youth with law firm volunteers.

Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) – pro-bono program only for youth in removal proceedings.