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Destinos, Chicago's annual Latino theater competition, returns this fall – Every day Northwestern


When Ana Velazquez was rising up through the Nineteen Eighties in McKinley Park, her household was one in all only some Mexican American households within the Chicago working class neighborhood. As her curiosity in theatre grew all through highschool and college, she sought to embrace her identification as a Latina from Chicago.

However Velazquez mentioned there weren’t many alternatives to inform tales she may relate to early in her directing profession.

On Sept. 22, “Alma,” a play a couple of single, immigrant mom that Velazquez directed, premiered on the American Blues Theater as part of Destinos, Chicago’s annual Latino theatre competition.

“It’s nearly overwhelming while you uncover what number of tales are on the market,” Velazquez mentioned about assembly different Latine artists. “There are such a lot of individuals simply itching to have a platform to inform their tales.”

Destinos’ mission is to uplift and amplify the voices of Chicago-based Latino theatremakers, in keeping with Sara Carranza, communication director for the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance. 

Latines are one of many metropolis’s largest rising demographics, and Destinos seeks to make sure the performing arts scene displays the tales of Chicago space residents. 

“We aren’t only a border story, we aren’t simply an city story and we aren’t only a sob story, which is usually what we’re portrayed as,” Carranza mentioned. “Having Latinos write their tales and having Latinos on stage is find out how to adequately inform Latino tales.”

Showcasing 13 productions over the course of 5 weeks, Destinos is organized by CLATA members, who present sustainable assist for Latine artists along with operating the annual competition. 

CLATA has contracted greater than 50 Latine artists and 100 technicians for Destinos this 12 months. Exterior the competition season, the group introduces partnering artists to funders, invitations them to grant utility conferences and gives occupational growth coaching. 

“We’re creating an ecology between massive theaters and small theaters to essentially uplift Latino voices and artists, when for a very long time they’ve been relegated to the sidelines,” Carranza mentioned.

Carranza mentioned the nonprofit additionally builds a way of ongoing neighborhood for theatremakers. Workers members at CLATA usually examine in with partnering artists to see how they’re doing personally.

Throughout the pandemic, CLATA launched Velazquez to Arts Midwest, an artist residency program in Indiana. On the finish of the residency, Destinos employees members drove to Indiana to view Velazquez’s last mission.

“It’s not day-after-day that you’ve got individuals who assist you day-after-day each as an artist but in addition as an individual,” Velazquez mentioned.

Carranza mentioned a part of Destinos’ mission is to foster cultural trade between totally different areas of Chicago by efficiency and storytelling.

Though the vast majority of the competition’s viewers is Latine, Carranza mentioned she is happy with the occasion’s accessibility and open-door insurance policies. All Spanish-language performances at Destinos have English subtitles to ask non-Spanish talking viewers members.

Destinos additionally seeks to fight stereotypes that group the  Latino neighborhood right into a monolith, in keeping with Carranza. She mentioned she is happy to showcase holistic, new work that presents particular person Latino experiences. 

“We’re not nearly catering to our neighborhood,” Carranza mentioned. “(Destinos) can also be about displaying to town who we’re. Tales can have massive, overarching, identifiable themes. With specificity, there’s universality.”

Velazquez mentioned she is happy that “Alma” bridges a connection between the American Blues Theater and CLATA.

Her imaginative and prescient when directing “Alma” revolved round her private expertise, she added. As a daughter of immigrants, Velazquez mentioned she linked to the primary characters and wished to painting them as truthfully as potential.

“All of us have our personal journeys, and even for those who aren’t uncodumented, it’s essential to know what dangers they take, what are the circumstances and what they go away behind,” Velazquez mentioned. 

Xavier Custodio is the director of “Sancocho,” a play about two sisters who share household secrets and techniques whereas cooking. The play will open at Windy Metropolis Playhouse on Oct. 8.

Custodio can also be the creative director of Visión Latino Theater Firm in Chicago, an modern theatre firm that goals to painting perseverance by its characters and tales. He mentioned he’s excited to be part of an ongoing assist system for Latino theatremakers. 

“We don’t have one million {dollars}, and we’ve got to depend on one another to make (theatre) occur,” Custodio mentioned. “We’re the youngest theatre firm within the group working with everybody… and (Destinos) has given us a voice within the theater panorama.”

This 12 months’s competition will even honor the reminiscence of Myrna Salazar, Destinos’ late government director and co-founder, who died in August. 

Salazar was “bigger than life” and a maternal determine for Chicago Latine artists at CLATA, Carranza mentioned. 

“(Salazar) laid an incredible groundwork, and the one motive we didn’t postpone the competition is as a result of she wouldn’t have allowed it,” Carranza mentioned. “She really cared about not simply our work however the individuals.”

Electronic mail: [email protected] 

Twitter: @ash_goren 

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