One of the reasons that the Latino Theatre Festival at The Goodman is unique is that they bring in productions from all over to allow audiences to partake in what one might call a “once in a lifetime experience”. Some of these productions are free to the public and that in itself is a gift from Henry Godinez and the marvelous staff of the Goodman. Along with the professional productions , they also brought us something very special this year- a home grown production from Albany Park. Yes, that is correct, Albany Park, that multi-ethnic neighborhood that borders from just south of Foster to just north of Montrose and from Kedzie West to just shy of Pulaski/Crawford has a multi-ethnic theater ensemble made up of local area teenagers. The organization is called The Albany Park Theater Project and the production that they put together “Feast” written and performed by these very talented teens is a sight to behold. It’s a pity that the Goodman, due to the number of shows offered for the festival could only give them one performance ( which I am sure was a thrill for these teens), but the good news is that this production will come to life in the fall as a five week-end production so that more Chicagoans will have the same opportunity as the full house had on July 20th. I will get you more info as soon as I have it.
Let me tell you that this is a Studs Terkel type of comical and moving story of people and their lives. This 90 minute production is a collection of short “skits” , for want of a better word dealing with food and culture. The stories are supposedly true with each of the teens sharing what they have either learned from their families or what they live on a daily basis. They include a look at how these teens view the LINK card and what it means to their existence: a young girl who fills out paperwork for her family in order to obtain this magical card that will allow them to eat regular meals, a boy who wants to get the name brand products at “The Jewel” instead of the off-brand at Aldi, so he can be on the same level as his friends ( who don’t use the LINK) and a young girl who enjoys the day the card comes so she can fill her cart to the brim with all the goodies that become available with the magical card.
We learn about a fourth generation butcher and why he came to America as well as a Philippine fisherman who leaves his homeland to make a better life for his family, a young boy who’s job is it is to raise and fatten up a cow for market, but along the way becomes the cow’s best friend and how he dreads the day that the cow will be sold, but knows that for his family to survive, this must be done. We also learn about the exploited sugar cane workers of Puerto Rico ( a wonderful scetch including soem beautiful music and a husband and wife, who upon losing their jobs brings an old family tamale recipe to Lawrence avenue in order to survive. The stories involve food in one way or another and these talented and charming teens looked very comfortable on the Goodman stage.
Under adult supervision these youngsters tasted their way through Albany Park interviewing dozens of street vendors, grocers, butchers and people who had varied backgrounds. They shopped together, ate together and even cooked together as they worked out the details of this very expressive show that tells these marvelous stories of hunger, exploitation, adaptation, heritage, migration, hunger, and of course the food and the companionship. Hats off to these sterling teens:
Osbaldo Antunez ,Armando Castillo,Stephanie Castrejon, Jancillin Chacko, Jaquilin Chaco, Kayla Ciccone, Yvonne Claton, David Gauna, Gissela Gualoto, Jaime Lopez, John Paul Marquez, Nichole Martinez, Jose Mata,Kimberly Mayo,Vincent Meredith, Luis Millan,Stephany Perez, Raul Rico, Jalen Rios and Troi Valles- You were wonderful and I hope that you will keep your creative juices flowing into your adult years.
The APTP artistic staff, David Feiner, Maggie Popadiak,Colby Beserra and Rossana Rodriguez should be very proud of what you have accomplished with this wonderful work by these marvelous teens. BRAVO!
To learn more about this organization visit www.aptpchicago.org