IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE PUERTO RICAN AGENDA’S 3 R’S
In September 2017, when Hurricane María devastated Puerto Rico, immediately I knew I wanted UrbanTheater Company (UTC) to help our island. When María initially hit, UTC was in Holyoke, MA performing Carmen Rivera’s La Gringa. During that week, through our performances, we helped heal and bring Holyoke’s community together. The idea of utilizing La Gringa as a fundraising vehicle sprouted while in Western Massachusetts; we just didn’t know when and how it would happen but we knew we had to get involved. As the only Puerto Rican focused theater company in Humboldt Park, UTC sprung into action to organize a benefit to help Puerto Rico. It was impacted to join forces with Chicago’s theater community and use our production of La Gringa, which was still fresh and speaks to the Puerto Rican experience. UTC organized a three-day benefit performance where 100% of the money raised from ticket sales went directly to help rebuild La Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Diseño de Puerto Rico (EAPD). The extraordinary individuals I’ve met from EAPD inspired UTC to unite our community in Chicago to make a difference with a heartfelt and memorable performance of La Gringa as a “gift” to EAPD during the Three Kings weekend.
“The arts are important to the magical fabric of La Isla del Encanto and this benefit performance is our communities Regalo de Reyes to EAPD,” adds Artistic Director and director of La Gringa, Miranda González.“ By UTC pulling together our community we will shine a light on the islands art community.”
Hurricane María hit the School hard: it lost most of its archives, book and art collections, its offices were flooded and classrooms destroyed. The total cost of damages has been estimated at one million dollars and the school could potentially lose students as many begin to seek transfers to the United States to complete their studies. We partnered with The Puerto Rican Agenda who has led local efforts with hurricane relief with their three R’s campaign: Rescue, Relief, Rebuild Puerto Rico. I reached out to The League of Chicago Theatres, Goodman and Steppenwolf to join as community partners. With their support, we were able to pay for rental expenses and provide stipends for our cast and crew. Community partners and longtime supporters included The Puerto Rican Cultural Center along with playwright Carmen Rivera, Richard Santiago, Adventure Stage Chicago, Chicago Latino Theater Alliance (CLATA) and Mike Oquendo, who was instrumental in the success of our original production.
“From this experience, you are pulling from the abundance of your soul…you are pulling from the abundance of your thoughts…you are taking your talent to offer it to help other people…wow…it’s inexplicable,” articulated Nydia Castillo, La Gringa cast member.
In less than one month, UTC managed to pin down the charming Vittum Theater with the help of Adventure Stage Chicago; gathered eight exceptional community partners (who helped contribute $3,300 in funds to offset costs for UTC to maximize donations received) and pulled off three performances of La Gringa. We generated $6007 from our Relief ticket tier ($27, general admission) and $2325 from our Rebuild ticket tier ($75, included a pre-show reception with meet & greet with cast). UTC will continue to seek donations until February 1 but are committed and honored to providing EAPD with a check for at least 10K on behalf of UTC.
On behalf of everyone at UTC, our community partners and the Humboldt Park community, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to each and every one of you who supported this noble and
significant initiative. We couldn’t have done this without our partners, our guests and those of you who purchased tickets and made monetary donations. With thanks and appreciation!
From the Streets to the Stage,