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URBANTHEATER COMPANY RAISES 10K WITH PRODUCTION OF “LA GRINGA” TO REBUILD ESCUELA DE ARTES PLÁSTICAS Y DISEÑO DE PUERTO RICO

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,

 

 

 

Ivan Vega
Executive Director
UrbanTheater Company

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La Gringa Benefit to Help Rebuild La Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Diseño – January 4-6, 2018

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We will present three benefit performances, in association with Adventure Stage Chicago, of our critically acclaimed box-office smash production of Carmen Rivera’s La Gringa, during Three Kings (Reyes Magos) Weekend. All proceeds raised will benefit Puerto Rico’s Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Diseño (School of Fine Arts and Design), in Old San Juan. The School was hit hard by Hurricane María: 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 transfer to the United States to complete their studies. The Chicago theater community has stepped up to contribute to the cause. The League of Chicago Theaters has committed to providing stipends for the play’s cast and crew and the Goodman and Steppenwolf Theatres are helping to cover rental expenses. Our goal is to raise a sum total of $30,000.

CHICAGO READER – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
“…With joy in its heart, Miranda Gonzalez’s UrbanTheater Company production reflects on what it means to feel a connection to a culture…” —Dan Jakes 
 
WINDY CITY TIMES – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
“…this Urban Theatre Company production ( performed in English, with occasional asides in Spanish ) remains always faithful to its cultural demographic, while appealing to audiences of all ethnicities.” —Mary Shen Barnidge

AROUND THE TOWN CHICAGO – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED 
“… I love the work that many of our smaller, “storefront theater companies” do! One of the more unfamiliar companies, at least to the general theater audience, is UrbanTheater Company, where they bring powerful stories, with a Latin twist to the Humboldt Park neighborhood…” – Alan Bresloff

NEWCITY CHICAGO – RECOMMENDED
“…This production is raw and honest. It will hit home for anyone who’s desired to know which cultural identity they should choose: their birth or their ancestry. The answer is, as Rivera tells us, you don’t have to.” —Loy Webb

Synopsis 
La Gringa centers on María Elena Garcia who travels to Puerto Rico to visit her extended family during the Christmas holidays. Although this is her first trip to Puerto Rico, she has grown up with an intense love for the island and even majored in Puerto Rican Studies in college. Upon her arrival, however, she realizes that Puerto Rico does not welcome her with open arms. The majority of the Puerto Ricans on the island consider her an American–a gringa—and María considers this a betrayal: If she’s a Puerto Rican in the United States and an American in Puerto Rico, María concludes, then this makes her a nobody everywhere. Her journey to come to terms with who she is leads María into misperceptions and misadventures. But will an unlikely ally help her find her way to the other side?


Carmen Rivera (Playwright) is an Obie Award-winning playwright whose other Off-Broadway productions include La Lupe: My Life, My Destiny (2002 ACE Award – Best Production); Julia de Burgos: Child of Water; To Catch the Lightning (1997 Nomination ACE Award – Best Production); The Next Stop (INTAR / Repertorio Español); and Under the Mango Tree (INTAR). She also co-wrote, with Cándido Tirado, Celia: The Life and Music of Celia Cruz, (HOLA Award 2008, Outstanding Achievement in Playwriting), which played Off-Broadway at New World Stages and toured Florida, Chicago, Tenerife, Canary Islands and Puerto Rico. Twelve of her other works have been produced at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM); Teatro Circulo; SOHO Rep; Nuyorican Poet’s Café; National Public Radio (NPR); UrbanTheater Company in Chicago and many other theaters. She holds an MA in Playwriting and Latin American Theatre from New York University. Read More

 

Miranda Gonzalez (Director/UTC Artistic Director) was a founding ensemble member of Chicago’s Only All-Latina Theater company Teatro Luna and has devised and developed plays since 2000. After performing as an actress for 10 years she decided to turn her artistic endeavors towards directing. Previous directing and development credits include: La Gringa, GL 2010, Of Princes and Princessas at the 2010 Goodman Latino Theatre Festival; 10×10 Festival, Lullaby, The North/South Plays workshop at the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs; Crossed, Crime Scene Chicago with Collaboraction; and Melissa DuPrey’s Sushi-Frito at Free Street Theater.

Tickets

Rebuild – $75 (includes pre-show reception and cast meet & greet)
Relief – $27 General Admisison

Pre-Show Reception begins at 6:30pm.
Showtime 7:30pm

Performance Venue – Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble St.
Box Office – (773) 342-4141

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FROM HUMBOLDT PARK TO HOLYOKE – LA GRINGA PROMOTES INTERCOMMUNAL SPACE FOR REFLECTION AND HEALING

Last September 2016, during the Puerto Rican Cultural Center’s 23rd annual Fiesta Boricua Ivan, met Nelson Roman, Ward 2 City Council and others from Holyoke and Springfield, MA. When Nelson visited Humboldt Park, Chicago he had just missed UrbanTheater Company’s (UTC) powerful revival of LOLITA DE LARES by Migdalia Cruz, which was on his radar. Even though Nelson didn’t see UTC’s production he heard great things about the play and the work by UTC. Later that fall, UTC was set to produce the Midwest Premiere of Carmen Rivera’s LA GRINGA directed by UTC’s Artistic Director Miranda Gonzalez along with Mikey Oquendo, which ended up being the most successful production to date. It ran a total of eight weeks and sold out every single performance. Even though Nelson hadn’t seen any of UTC’s work he knew he wanted to create a partnership with UTC, especially after hearing about LA GRINGA. Executive Director, Ivan Vega and Nelson talked about creating a partnership where UTC’s productions from Humboldt Park could also have a short run in Holyoke, MA. Fast forward to September 2017, an idea called, From Humboldt Park to Holyoke (a spin from our motto, From the Streets to the Stage) became a reality.

UTC was invited to perform LA GRINGA in at El Mercado from September 21-25, 2017 thanks to Nelson Roman, founder of Palante Theater Company and the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA). We were greeted with open arms and treated like family. The population of Holyoke is 50% Puerto Rican and growing, which is one reason why we felt at home. We stayed at Jay’s beautiful Bed & Breakfast where we woke up to boleros and salsa and the smell of coffee and breakfast, owned and run by Jay, a Puerto Rican man whose saying was, “you all better not leave any food on that table.” Jay is a great businessman and an inspiration to many in Holyoke. He was also a fantastic host!

UTC’s four performances during the weekend were dedicated to the people from Mexico and Puerto Rico after the devastation from both the earthquake and Hurricane Maria. During that weekend UTC created a space for reflection and healing. People laughed, people wept, people hugged. There were many generations in the same room as well as recent evacuees from Puerto Rico. On Saturday, September 23 during our matinee performance, U-Haul trucks were being loaded with supplies next door for Puerto Rico. Betty Medina, the José López of Holyoke (what everyone calls her), from Enlace de Familias (local organization) was preparing and planning logistics for evacuees who will soon arrive. The weekend taught us that no matter the distance we are always together. LA GRINGA could not have come at a better time. The evening after the 2nd Annual Taste of South Holyoke Festival, percussionist Julissa Rodriguez graced El Mercado with an opening ceremony calling our ancestors into the space. The cast elevated and turned that room into a higher vibrational plane. IT. WAS. MAGICAL.

After LA GRINGA’S final performance, we received a tour of the beautiful (and haunted) Victory Theater. We sat at   a table after dinner and acknowledged one another as we reflected our weekend and time together. We laughed. We cried. We had everything we could ever imagine and things we never imagined we needed. We created community. A big thank you to everyone from Holyoke for making our stay memorable, to our enchanting cast and crew and to LA GRINGA’S playwright Carmen Rivera for not only writing this piece but for letting us bring it to life. We look forward to our next Holyoke visit!

by Ivan Vega, UTC Executive Director &
Miranda Gonzalez, UTC Artistic Director

 

SPECIAL EVENT: WHERE YOU FROM? WHAT YOU BE ABOUT? – THREE NIGHTS ONLY IN CHICAGO (OCT 27- 29)!

UrbanTheater Company (UTC) is pleased to welcome Chicago native, Eric Aviles (writer & performer) in his workshop Midwest Premiere of Where You From? What You Be About?, directed by Eddie Torres.

Where You From?  What You Be About? was a common saying growing up in a disenfranchised community in Chicago during the 1980’s. Both the gangs and the police would stop you and pose these same interrogating questions. As a youth, one had to navigate the streets knowing how to be clever and careful on answering those questions. Where you from? was asking what neighborhood you lived in and your response would give them an assumption of What You Be About or what gang you may be in. The gang culture of claiming “your” neighborhood, causing community divisions, still exists in Chicago today. As gentrification and the cost of living have increased in these marginalized communities the disparity has contributed to the increasing gun violence in the last several years.

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[World Premiere] Ashes of Light by Marco Antonío Rodriguez

UrbanTheater Company (in association with 1st Chicago International Latino Theater Festival, Destinos) present:

ASHES OF LIGHT 

A mother’s love knows no boundaries… Over the course of two evenings mother and son, two estranged generations of Dominicans living on the north side of Chicago, attempt to rekindle the love and appreciation for each other and their roots; but unexpectedly revealed intimate secrets threaten to destroy an already thin bond.

Performed in English with sprinkles of Spanish.
(WORLD PREMIERE – COMEDY/DRAMA) 90 Minutes

CREATIVE TEAM

Miranda Gonzalez – Artistic Director, Director/Producer
Ivan Vega – Executive Director/Producer
Sara Carranza – Stage Manager
Antonio Bruno – Production Manager
Caswell James – Set Designer
Meghan Erxleben – Lighting Designer
Sarah Espinoza – Sound Designer
Fredy Rocha – Costume Designer
Kelsey Cox – Prop Designer
Lana Elaine Whittington – Fight Choreographer

CAST

Nydia Castillo* – Lucecita “Luz”
Maritza Cervantes – Lydia
Maritza Nazario – Divina
Andrew Neftalí Perez* – Julio Cesar

SHOWS

Thursday, Oct. 19 at 8 pm
Friday, Oct. 20 at 10 am – Education Matinee
Friday, Oct. 20 at 8 pm
Saturday, Oct. 21 at 8 pm
Sunday, Oct. 22 at 2:30 pm

*For Education Matinee – email Christine Pérez: manager@clata.org

TICKETS

Ticket Price $25 (General Admission)
Students $5 off
Seniors $5 off

Box Office: (773) 871-3000

*Denotes Ensemble Member

 

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La Gringa is Headed to Holyoke!

LA GRINGA RETURNS FROM HUMBOLDT PARK TO HOLYOKE 

During our initial production, La Gringa ran for five weeks to sold out audiences on Paseo Boricua in Humboldt Park. Due to its popularity, it extended for three additional weeks. It sold out once again. On Sept 22, UTC heads to Holyoke with to reprise our production of La Gringa! This is made possible thanks to Palante Theater Company and Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts Victory Theatre (MIFA).

CAST

Phil Camacho – Victor
Nydia Castillo* – Norma
Frankie Davila – Monolo
Andrew Neftalí Perez* – Monchi
NK Gutiérrez – Iris
Sofia Tew – María

Performances will be held at:

El Mercado
413 Main Street Holyoke, MA 01040

September 22 at 8:00 pm
September 23 at 2:00 pm & 8:00 pm
September 24 at 2:00 pm

*Denotes Ensemble Member

Adelante Interview – Must Close July 23!

Dennis Garcia, who plays Water talks about Richard Montoya’s Water & Power, directed by Richard Perez on his recent interview with WGN’s Adelante Chicago with Lourdes Durate.

Water & Power – Midwest Premiere

Written by Richard Montoya
Directed by Richard Perez

A gripping drama about ambitious Mexi-Rican twins from Humboldt Park who fight for their people and ultimately their very lives. 

June 20-July 23, 2017
July 22 is a benefit performance

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Water & Power is the winner of the 2006 Ted Schmitt Award presented by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle for the world premiere of an outstanding new play.

Water & Power is modern noir. What emerges from the long shadows of a rainy night is as mysterious as what will never see the light of day. Who is the Power behind the Power? How does Water flow in Chicago? Who controls the streets, cops, gangs or gangsters in suits and ties? Nothing is concrete in Chicago, except The Loop, and more funerals for young Black Men…

“Originally performed by the award-winning Chicano/Latino performance troupe Culture Clash at the Center Theatre Group’s Mark Taper Forum in July 2006 under the direction of Lisa Peterson.”

“Admirers of the group’s unique blend of Chicano-inflected, spoken-word-erupting performance art needn’t worry that they’ve lost sight of their signature gifts. “Water & Power” daringly tries to bundle these elements into a theatrical experience that veers inevitably toward tragedy.” – The Los Angeles Times


Richard Montoya (Playwright) is a founding member of the historic performance trio Culture Clash. Born in San Diego, California, Richard was influenced by his family’s involvement in matters of civil rights to pursue a career in political and social activism, and chose to accomplish these goals through writing original works and acting in plays and films concerned with matters of culture, racism, and Latino identity in the United States. His plays have been produced by Arizona Theater Company, Yale Rep, Campo Santo, Goodman Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, and Arena Stage, among many others. He made his feature filmmaking debut as a director with a big screen, Edward James Olmos-produced adaptation of Water & Power starring Enrique Murciano and Clancy Brown. Montoya’s second film, the documentary Carlos in Wonderland, about the legendary Chicano painter Carlos Almaraz, and co-directed with Elsa Flores Almaraz, is currently in post-production.


Richard Pérez (Director) is an award-winning actor, director, and educator. He is the recipient of the Theatre Communications Group’s New Generations/Future Leaders Fellowship, which took him to Chicago Dramatists as its first Associate Artistic Director in 2009. Prior to that, he was the Producing Artistic Director of the Bloomington Playwrights Project in Indiana for seven seasons. In that time he oversaw the production of over thirty new plays, with at least sixteen of those being world premieres. His directing credits include Roustabout, Miss Julie, Urinetown, All My Sons, True West, Hurly Burly, The Mercy Swing (New York Fringe Festival) and Nocturnal (part of the Kennedy Center’s New Visions/New Voices Festival). Chicago credits include Fucking A for UTC and Invasion of Skokie for Chicago Dramatists. As an actor, he has appeared as Councilman Ortiz on Boss, with Kelsey Grammer, as well as roles on Chicago Fire and Chicago Med.


CAST

Mike Cherry (The Fixer), Juan Delgado (Asuncion García/Ministro/Vendor), Dennis García (Water), Gabriel Elias González (Deer Dancer/Gibby/Gabby), Andrew Neftalí Pérez (Notre/Sur), Ivan Vega (Power) 

CREW

Liza Ann Acosta (Dramaturg), Antonio Bruno (Co-Producer/Production Manager), Sara Carranza (House Manager/Props), Kelsey Cox (Costume Design), Meghan Erxleben (Lighting Design), Karolyn M. Gil (Box Office), Brandon Gomez (Box Office), Miranda González (Artistic Director/Co-Producer), Caswell James (Set Design), Perry Landes (Sound Design), Jacqueline Marschke (Stage Manager/Co-Production Manager), Richard Perez (Director), Fredy Rocha (Costume Designer)

Water & Power Digital Program


TICKETS
Suggestion Donation: $20

Box Office: (312) 767-UTC1; (312) 767-8821
Performance Venue: 2620 W. Division St., on the Paseo Boricua in the heart of Humboldt Park
Performance Times:  7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays

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