The Chicago Latino Theater Alliance ( CLATA )a non-profit 501( c )( 3 ) organization formed in 2016 by the three most prominent Chicago Latino arts organizations: International Latino Cultural Center, National Museum of Mexican Art, Puerto Rican Arts Allianceis presenting Destinos: 3rd International Latino Theater Festival, and it has just kicked off its 2019 season.
Myrna Salazar, one of the co-founders of CLATA, started this year's journey by attending Organic Sofrito or Other Recipes for Disaster, which played at the Steppenwolf Sept. 19-22. She told Windy City Times that there was a mix of Chicagoans, Latinos and non-Latinos, from all over the city. It was a sold-out night.
One piece Salazar said she is looking forward to is The Delicate Tears of the Waning Moon (being presented by Chicago's Water People Theater at the Steppenwolf 1700 space, 1700 N. Halsted St., through Sunday, Oct. 13), which is based on the true story of a journalist who has been repressed for her views on corruption in Mexico. This is the first play for the actress/playwright Rebeca Aleman, and two characters tell the story. "It's a gripping story about social justice in Latin America, about the real-life women who were killed over their exposure of human and organ trafficking in Mexico," Salazar said, adding, "I was more than pleased to know that this was part of Destinos."
She also stated, "We are also looking forward to Feos at the Chopin Theatre, a play brought by a company from Chile by Aline Kuppenheim in her first collaboration with Guillermo Calderon. Unfortunately, there was a glitch with the American Embassy they were not able to make it here on time. We are hoping to have an answer as to their status in the next few days."
At this time, La Tia Marielato be co-presented with the National Museum of Mexican Artis also on hold because of the authorization of visas. Salazar promised to share more on these developments with followers through social media.
Nevertheless, the festival is chock full of interesting works and accessible through the different theater venues throughout the city. "I am excited about the delicate balance of the festival. It covers so many topics such as immigration, jealousy, mental health, politics," said Salazar. "Feos is one piece that talks about how everybody looks at everybody and how we are perceived. There are beautiful projections in the way the narrative moves."
Adding a twist of comedy to the festival this year is Soltera, Casada, Viuda y Divorciada, a production from Puerto Rico. 'This speaks about me," said Salazar. "I was single, married, divorced and I am a widow. So I can relate to each and every one of those titles."
Another interesting play, Andares, is being done in co-presentation with the Shakespeare Theater. It was created and is directed by a young graduate from Ann Arbor, Michigan, named Hector Flores Komatsu, who is indigenous. It's a three-person narrative and it conveys three different indigenous languages. "There are themes of great social, cultural and human values," added Salazar.
When asked which production stands out to her this year, Salazar responded, "The festival is only in its third year and it's very difficult for me to give you what stands out mostly for me. I have been impressed, touched, moved. Theater gives you a different brush; theater is visceral, theater is real. It's not like a movie set and they say, 'Cut, say the line again.' This is the flow of consciousnessyou are there, you are pulled in and you have it in front of your face. [This year's first performance] brought me in completely."
As co-founder of the festival, Salazar said that, on a personal level, she is very proud of how far the event has come. "But," she added, "it makes me even more proud to make sure that I can bring our local Latino theater companies and stories to a broader audience. We want to continue to grow the audiences for our local theater groups. That gives me a rush. I feel them. I love the arts, I love this genre. I have a lot of respect for it. I wish the whole world would to be fighting for tickets. Most importantly, I want to make sure we share our culture. Sometimes we live so isolated from culture."
When asked how the themes throughout Destinos are relatable to a broader audience, and how they can connect the Chicagoan experience from the South Side to the North Side, Salazar ( originally from Puerto Rico, but raised in Chicago ) stated, "You will be surprised how many of our stories are similar. I wish everyone shared my enthusiasm. Theater is a different art form. I support Broadway In Chicago. I have seen them all. But it's a different entertainment experience when I see my own stories being told on the stage.
"Whether it's about cooking, traditions, sexual abuse, our regional music and traditions, it is in these stories where we find common ground as people."
Destinos: 3rd International Latino Theater Festival will run through Sunday, Oct. 27. See CLATA.org .