THE OTHER WAY: STORIES OF THE NEW UPTOWN, Scrap Mettle Soul, at Alternatives, Inc. For ten years Scrap Mettle Soul has presented true community theater: the stories of real people in Uptown and Edgewater. In The Other Way, the narratives come from people who’ve immigrated to this country from other, more violent places. Though the production’s overall arc is somewhat confusing–Uptown travelers in an airport discuss their pasts–the individual stories are moving.

Most of the ensemble are not professional actors, and many are children, but their sometimes faltering scenes and monologues have a jolting directness and clarity of feeling. In the most provocative tale, Peter Makuach and Paterno Chrispino talk about their experiences as “lost boys” of the Sudan–children who walked hundreds of miles in the 1980s to flee the violence of civil war. Vivid, horrific, the story of their trip is somehow full of hope. The Scrap Mettle performers aren’t sugarcoating their histories, and they also point out America’s flaws. But they make us see that, no matter how bad things are here, recent immigrants have often known much worse.