Review: GL 2010 – Not Your Generic Latina (Teatro Luna)

Teatro Luna – Anything but generic!

  photo by Johnny Knight

   
Teatro Luna presents
      
GL 2010 – Not Your Generic Latina
  
Developed & Directed by Miranda Gonzalez
at
Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago (map)
through July 11  |  tickets: $15-$20  |  more info 

reviewed by Aggie Hewitt

Teatro Luna is a great theatre company. Billing themselves as "Chicago’s all Latina theatre company," Teatro Luna brings Latina actresses, writers and directors together to collaboratively compose all original material. Their new show, GL 2010, is styled as a review, made up of a series of vignettes, songs, and movement pieces. GL stands photo by Johnny Knight for Generic Latina, and shares a name with Teatro Luna’s first production. Although the material is all new, it is generated by the same idea as the original: what does the phrase "Generic Latina" mean?

As the audience enters, they are met with a particularly noticeable pre-show soundtrack, a hodgepodge of electronica music and samples from what sounds like a particularly dark telenovela. The walls of the set are absolutely covered with Spanish-language posters for movies, bands and night clubs; as well as a graffiti-style stencils of Mexican wrestling masks, ice cream trucks and Virgin Marys. The show starts with a bang, when a red jump suited audience member flies out of her seat and plows onto the stage to perform a high energy rap about her Latina experience, denying that there is anything generic about her at all. This opening number is representative of Teatro Luna at its very best: controlled, focused energy exploding with the joy of performance. After this first opening number, a gang of three mothers of adult children take the stage, a vignette that will be replicated twice during the show. The three women come from different Spanish speaking countries and discuss their cultural differences, and their shared worries about their children. Teatro Luna always takes its time to explore as many angles of Latina life as possible. The three mothers are vessels through which the culture is examined externally: the writer/performers themselves look at a part of their culture that they are much to young to experience and explore it like curious children, eager to show their findings.

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GL 2010 is more reserved than the company’s previous shows. With a cast that welcomes a few new writer/performers, GL 2010 has the intellectual weight one expects from a Luna show, but comes off as emotionally guarded. Scenes are generated from autobiographical stories, which has given a raw, emotional edge to past shows like Lunaticas. It makes sense that GL 2010 would become more  intellectual than emotional: the premise of the show is to investigate what a Generic GL 2010_007Latina means, and to blow up that stereotype – and external struggle rather than an internal one.

There are some emotional highlights in GL 2010, however. Lauren Villegas‘ courtroom monologue is emotionally stirring and captivating, and the rap performances that act as a Greek Chorus in this show manage to both contain lots of thought-provoking information and have a warm emotional side. Teatro Luna is at its best during large, vibrant group scenes although some of the larger numbers in GL 2010 aren’t quite fully realized. An ode to the nightmarish act of female body waxing has the potential to be a major show stopper, but its viewpoint is too weak to be very ratable.

The women of Teatro Luna are a powerful force, and the work they put into their collaborative shows is evident in their product. GL 2010 isn’t a perfect show, but Teatro Luna is one of the coolest theater companies out there.

   
   
Rating: ★★½
 
 

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This week’s Openings and Closings

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show openings

The Addams Family Broadway In Chicago

American Buffalo Steppenwolf Theatre 

Christmas Follies Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus

The Nutcracker Center for the Performing Arts at Governors State University

The Nutcracker North Shore Center for the Performing Arts

In the Heights Broadway In Chicago

It’s a Wonderful Life Improv Playhouse Radio Theatre

It’s a Wonderful Life AFTRA/SAG Senior Radio Players

Rent, School Edition Studio BE

Salsa Sketch Gorilla Tango Theatre

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show closings

CUBA and his Teddy Bear UrbanTheater / PEOPLE’S Theater of Chicago

The Dreamers Theatre Building Chicago 

How to Act Around Cops The Artistic Home

The Mercy Seat Profiles Theatre

The Mystery of Irma Vep Court Theatre

The Nutcracker Sings Jedlicka Performing Arts Center

Patchwork U.S.A. Raven Theatre

Peter Gallagher, Don’t Give Up on Me Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower Place

Stars in the Attic Gorilla Tango Theatre

Summer People The Gift Theatre

Time Traveling Mom-Dad Gorilla Tango Theatre

Towards the Sun! Gorilla Tango Theatre

Young Frankenstein Broadway In Chicago

Theater Thursday: “CUBA and his Teddy Bear”

Thursday, December 10

CUBA and his Teddy Bear by Reinaldo Povod 

UrbanTheater and People’s Theater of Chicago
Location: The Batey Urbano
2620 W. Division St., Chicago

CUBACome in from ‘the streets and onto our stage’! Join UrbanTheater Company for a very special evening of pre show Caribean/Puerto Rican hors d’ouevres, beverages and Live Latin Music, featuring Chicago School of Folk Music’s, Armando Quintero. Then sit back and enjoy a riveting trip to NYC’s Lower East Side with Reinaldo Povod‘s critically acclaimed, ‘CUBA and His Teddy Bear. This event includes a pre show mingle with UTC’s Award Winning and Jeff Nominated company members and a very special post show talk back with the cast.

Event begins at 6 p.m.
Show begins at 7:30.

TICKETS ONLY $25 

Tickets for this event are available ONLY at the Door; Cash, Money Orders and Checks are accepted

For more information call 773-371-1868.

REVIEW: “Cuba and His Teddy Bear”

Chilling and tragic examination of father-son dynamics

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UrbanTheater and People*s Theater of Chicago presents:

Cuba and His Teddy Bear

by Reinaldo Povod
directed by Marilyn Camancho
thru December 13th (ticket info)

review by Oliver Sava

Joseph-CubaA family drama in unfolding at Humboldt Park’s Batey Urbano (map), the storefront theater currently home to the midwest premiere of Reinaldo Povod’s Cuba and His Teddy Bear. At the heart of the dysfunction is Cuba (Madrid St. Angelo), a small time drug dealer, and Teddy (Christian Kane Blackburn), Cuba’s artistic son with a major monkey on his back. When Cuba’s friend Jackie (Hank Hilbert) unloads two pounds of marijuana on the pair, drug dealing becomes family bonding, but it’s only a matter of time before things go to hell. The buyer that Teddy has lined up, heroin addict/Tony award winning playwright Che (Julian Martinez), has no intention of paying for the product, and he’s brought along the Dealer (Kamal Han), a stickup artist who walks with a skull-adorned cane due to of an abscess in his leg from repeated injections.

If your character is in the title of the play, you better be damn good. Luckily, St. Angelo and Blackburn are. The success of the production hinges on the relationship of these two characters, and the two actors have great chemistry that comes from having truly explored the circumstances of these characters. St. Madrid plays Cuba with equal parts concerned family man and dangerous drug dealer, creating an incredibly realistic portrait of a father trying to do the best he can with the limited skills he has. Cuba tells Teddy that if he wants to do drugs he can just ask him and they’ll do them together. He wants his son to become a federal agent because it’s good, honest work. Cuba sees the potential in his son and when he sees it being extinguished it drives him to the edge of sanity; the play’s climax is a tense standoff between father and son that ends in a gunshot and a flood of tears.

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Blackburn’s Teddy has an introverted intensity throughout Act I that hints at the character’s secret shame, and watching him confront his demons in Act II is heartbreaking. He grooms his father with a gentle touch that is both tender yet unnerving, and the character’s willingness to throw away his future in exchange for human affection is fully realized by Blackburn, especially in the scene with Martinez’s Che. Martinez, dressed like a pachuco with two huge black circles around his eyes, is wonderfully menacing and tragic, content with living on a Central Park bench and exploiting the emotions of misguided youth so he can score. When Teddy tells Che, "You should come to me because you want to see me, not because you want to get high," the audience knows that will never be the case, and so does Teddy, but he clings to his desires in the face of utter futility.

The biggest flaw with the production is the length – the playwright’s ambitious script packs so much material in two and a half hours that the weight begins to slow down the pace and lessens the casts energy. The show could use about a half hour of cutting, but the ensemble that director Marilyn Camancho has assembled captures the gritty intensity of Povod’s script, resulting in a chilling examination of father-son and dealer-junkie dynamics.

 

Rating: ★★★

 

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