This musical is a grand requiem to all those who’ve ever had to flee. It's also a story that celebrates the strength of young people who deserve a dignified pathway to their future. It is written both for those who died waiting for change and for those who are still braving the realities of building a new world in a new country. 

 The story delves into the idea that dreams hold a certain irreversibility and immutability. Even though the characters remain physically in the basement throughout Act 1, they use the power of imagination to travel across time and space through distant memories and foreign realms.

With humor as our weapon and dreams as our guide, we learn to entertain opposing ideas and hold multiple perspectives in mind, navigating the tensions that arise when personal space becomes communal. EXIST reveres the divine in the ordinary, inviting an audience to embrace the group's quest for closure amidst an unchangeable past and an unpromised future. Reminding us that even amidst uncertainty and hostility, there can be beauty, meaning, growth, and the ever-present possibility for transformation. 

The ordinary becomes extraordinary, we declare freedom, take back our dreams, care for one another, and find harmony in the space between.


EXIST is a Virtual Reality installation followed by a Musical — separate events but companion experiences. 

Inspired by true events, EXIST unveils the story of young adults resisting deportation in the same sanctuary. Our music blends street and multicultural forms to authentically represent our characters. 

As they resist together, their lives intertwine and they adapt to a life where their dreams had to be put on hold. Our music blends street and multicultural forms to authentically represent our characters. 

Act 1 of the musical follows the character’s journey of holding on to their dreams and forming connections with one another in the face of uncertainty. But as time passes, their circumstances become more desperate, with the space that once felt like a temporary refuge becoming  suffocating. When a flood strikes, they are forced to leave the confines of the church and must adapt to the ever-present risks of surviving outside their protected space.  

Act 2 finds the characters grappling with the reality that each must now find his or her own means of sanctuary to protect them against the government’s efforts to expel them. There is a unique story arc for each character navigating individual circumstances and balancing their short-term sacrifices against the dreams to which they still aspire. 

This immersive experience celebrates the resilience found in community and the transformative power of strangers coming together.



Over the past three years, we have been dedicated to conducting extensive research and collecting material from various perspectives, collaborating with individuals living in displacement across 15+ countries.

The  Virtual Reality was recorded with a 3D volumetric camera, and rendered into a 400,000-particle special effect to protect the identity of the interviewees. The Unity 3D experience was developed as a full room-scale virtual reality.



“The complex sense memories and soundscapes that we each carry within us are uniquely different, and yet where these experiences intersect is where we find peace and any vague semblance of home. The music of EXIST came out of trying to reconcile the duality of the deep loneliness of living in exile, and also the lifesaving richness added by the complete strangers you fall madly in love with along the journey, and end up claiming as family.”

– Marina Pires


Marina Montesanti
 Conceiver & Director 

Marina Pires

Music & Lyrics

Andrew Michael Reid  Book

Gustavo Blaauw
 Creative Producer

William Ruiz-Morales

Ahmad Simmons



Fuyuan Zheng

Production Stage Manager


Joe Mecca
Virtual Reality Creator

Luis Huiza
VR and Website Developer

Ana Clara Furtado

Social Media Manager

Dan Shimmy
Virtual Reality Developer

Yasmin Santana

Website Creative Director and Designer