With a program of 17 works, Destinos, the Chicago International Latino Theater Festival, returns for its sixth edition and will take place from September 28 to November 12.
Organized by the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance (CLATA), the festival features shows by Latin theater companies and artists from Chicago, the United States and Latin America. This year, the various productions that include works from Puerto Rico, Colombia and Mexico, will take place at different stages throughout the city, such as the Steppenwolf Theater Company in Lincoln Park, Teatro Tariakuri in Inglewood, and the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen .
Following the death of CLATA co-founder and CEO Myrna Salazar in August of last year, Jorge Valdivia was appointed to the CEO position in January 2023.
“Taking on this role is a privilege and responsibility that I do not take lightly,” he said.
Valdivia was raised in Little Village and has been dedicated to arts and media management for more than 25 years. He said much of his work is focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.
According to him, this year Destinos will present more works compared to the fifth edition in 2022, which offered 13 productions.
Works such as Launta Mariela, produced by the Yucatecan theater company, Sa’as Tun, and Yo no soy loca by Colombia’s Teatro Petra, will have their US premiere at this festival.
The first show that opens this international event on September 28 will be La Carne Asada 2: The Seasoning, written and produced by local artist Vanessa García.
La Carne Asada 2, described as a bilingual comedy sketch, was first presented in 2019. But this year CLATA asked García if he could bring it back for one night for the festival.
“I said yes and I felt really honored and blessed to be able to do the show [de nuevo]”, said. “Definitely a dream come true.”
García, of Mexican and Salvadoran descent, wanted the Latino community to feel “at home” while watching his production, as if they were at a barbecue with their family. She is very happy that Destinos has created a space that welcomes and includes Latin artists.
“Theater in general is so dominated by white people… So every once in a while, when I see a Latina lead on a show, it’s great,” she said.
In one of the monologues of this comedy, actor Jesse Pazmiño of Ecuadorian descent plays the role of television celebrity Walter Mercado, who died in 2019.
Pazmiño shared that his intention was to commemorate how the Puerto Rican astrologer made viewers feel, accentuating his personality without ridiculing it, highlighting his sincerity.
He confesses to feeling the pressure of being part of the show that will begin the festival, but he is happy for what it means for his community.
“It’s so small [la comunidad teatral latina] which I think is easily overlooked,” Pazmiño said. “I think that visibility… for Latin actors and artists is really important.”
Valdivia expresses that there are inequities in the local theater world because the Latin theater is not financed in the same way compared to other companies in the city. Therefore, he is very proud of the work that CLATA is doing. “I love the fact that we are an organization that is committed to helping raise the profile of Latino theater,” he said.
He wants everyone who attends Destinos to know that they are not only “sitting through a performance, but [que] “They are supporting the dreams of artists.”
The Chicago International Latino Theater Festival known as Destinos, has returned for its sixth annual rendition. Organized by the Chicago Latino Theatre Alliance (CLATA), the festival will showcase Latinx theater companies and artists from Chicago, the United States and Latin America. Destinos will take place from September 28 to November 12.
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