¡SALUD! An ALTA Toast for 2017
¡FELIZ AÑO NUEVO! from all of us at ALTA!
2017 was a challenging year for so many reasons, and here at ALTA we’ve learned a lot from our mistakes, our missteps, and from the examples and models set by our peers. While reflecting on the trials, tribulations, and lessons we learned, we were also struck by the incredible talent and efforts of so many artists, makers, organizers and doers. Your work has created a wealth of beautiful and powerful moments and movements, and we’ve been so inspired by the work being done here in Chicago, across the U.S. and around the world.
Latinx artists and the larger Latinx community continue to be a vibrant and present force in this city, and this year we saw the fruits of their collective and individual endeavors. As part of our mission, it’s important to us that we uplift, recognize, and trumpet the success of our fellow artists and the organizations they serve and work in. We are here, and have been!, and we are making and doing and imagining new and amazing worlds, on an individual and an institutional level.
We’d like to raise a toast to each of the people, events, organizations and shows on this list, to recognize them, to celebrate their stupendous impact on Chicago theatre, and to lift them up proudly as we enter 2018. ¡Estamos Aquí! ¡Y andamos juntos pa’delante!
We Raise Our Glasses To...
Avi Roque | Avi is an artist and an advocate. This year, more than any year in the past, they have put themselves forward in a bold way to make the world better for others. In addition to their palpable and powerful performances, they have participated in many discussions on equality, equity, and allyship. There is a reason they were named among the 30 under 30 by the Windy City Times. Some of our favorite works they've shared are: “How to be an Ally” for the Chicago Inclusion Project , their Pajaritos podcast, and many more.
Chicago's Latinx Artists | This year was a phenomenal year for Chicago Latinx artists in theater, web-series, television, and film. Between Karen Rodriguez & Gabe Ruiz giving major slayage it in Steppenwolf's production of The Rembrandt, and Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel critically-acclaimed leading performance in Steep Theatre's production of Lela & Co.; from Tommy Rivera Vega and Monica Orozco's quickness demonstrated through the new play process in Lottery Day at the Goodman, to Jasmin Cardenas for her amazing story work in her show Cuentos From the Americas and so many others, the myths of the size and talent of our community are no more. This year demonstrated that the talent of Chicago's Latinx community will be changing the world sooner rather than later.
Additionally, there have been some phenomenal standouts in the realm of television, film, and web-generated content! So many groups in our beautiful community have worked together to make phenomenal stories come to life on the screen. Some of our favorites include: Tadeo Garcia's En Algun Lugar, Tanya Saracho's VIDA on Starz, Melissa Jimenez in Pick-Up, Melissa DuPrey and many more in Brown Girls, Ricardo Gamboa's Brujos, which includes a breadth of Chicago Latinx talent, and Flavia Borges in Menace. We hope these gives you some great viewing choices while you're curled up this cold winter!
CLATA's Destinos Festival | The Chicago Latinx Alliance of Theater Artists surfaced in 2017, hosting an annual festival that highlighted Chicago's place in the international theater community. It included phenomenal Chicago Latinx productions like MEET JUANITO DOE from Free Street Theate, Aguijon's LA MUERTE Y LA DONCELLA,Teatro Vista's FADE, Urban Theater Company's ASHES OF LIGHT, and so many more! All of the incredible artists, scholars, organizers, and professionals who participated in the amazing auxiliary programming that complimented the Destinos festival.
Sandra Delgado | Newly depicted larger than life in mural by Kerry James Marshall, a sold-out and extended run of La Havana Madrid (one of the best shows of the year!), numerous residencies and commissions, acting in national shows, AND having a family, Sandra Delgado proved that she can and does DO IT ALL. She is a powerhouse of talent and a bastion of kindness. We cannot wait to see what else Sandra has in store for 2018! Keep up with all her amazing feats here! https://www.sandradelgado.net/. You can also hear from her on ALTA’s podcast, Pajaritos!
Sandra Marquez | director of Teatro Vista’s production of FADE by Tanya Saracho, and recent addition to Steppenwolf’s, is an amazing actress, director and educator. This was a great year for this talented human and we can't wait to see what else is in store! You can also hear from her on ALTA’s podcast, Pajaritos!
Miranda Gonzalez | Miranda was recently names the newly appointed artistic director of UrbanTheater Company and we are in awe of her artistic leadership! A thriving upcoming season, directing talent, and being featured as part of this year's Destinos festival, she is amazing! Learn more about Miranda by listening to her interview on ALTA’s podcast, Pajaritos!
David Cerda | At the 2017 non-equity Jeff awards, David Cerda was awarded a special award for his achievements in our field and used the opportunity to speak out against problematic critics! He has helmed numerous extended and sold-out productions at the thriving Hell-in-a-Handbag productions which serves theater that no one else is doing. We thank David for his bravery, commitment to community, and all-around bad-assery.
THE MANAGERS | Amongst the many administrative appointments Latinx creators, administrators, producers, and arts leaders occupy, there is still a great disparity of Latinxs in administrative leadership positions. Three of our favorites who are trying to change that include Katie Klemme as Managing Director at American Theater Company, Karena Fiorenza Ingersoll as General Manager at Steppenwolf Theatre, and Melissa DuPrey at Free Street Theater! These fiercely talented women are respectively dominating their fields and we couldn't be more thrilled to see these companies add them to their leadership!
Unidos: Puerto Rico Benefit Concert | We would like commend and recognize Lillian Castillo, Keely Vasquez, Missy Aguilar, Lucy Godinez, Michelle Lauto, Yando Lopez and many more on producing this beautiful and courageous one-night-only benefit concert where all proceeds were donated to the Hispanic Federation’s hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico. They used their talent to help a community that is still very much in need of recovery and needs our help. The power of community through art & song!
Isaac Gomez, Marcela Muñoz, Karen Rodriguez, Rinska Carrasco, Ricardo Gamboa and so many more for receiving 3Arts awards for their enduring and amazing talent and their impact on Chicago theater community and beyond!
Laura Alcalá Baker (Victory Gardens), Stephanie Diaz (Chicago Inclusion Project), and Rachael Jimenez (Goodman Theatre) for the phenomenal work they have done in the field of casting to make sure diversity and inclusion is on the agenda of national theatres and institutions. Because of their fierce leadership, advocacy, and ability to see beyond the mythological norm of casting practices, these three power-houses deserve some mezcal and more!
Tanya Saracho I One of ALTA Chicago's original founders, Tanya Saracho has been working this year as a first-time show runner on her upcoming series, VIDA, to premiere on Starz in 2018, giving more jobs to Latinx people in television than we've seen in the last few years. She has also been commissioned by Starz to write the pilot for another new show, Brujas. Set in Chicago, this new show will follow four Afro-Caribbean/Latinx women in Chicago and will use brujeria counter-culture as a foundation, returning to indigenous practices and a reclamation of feminine strength. Tanya is paving the way for more Latinx stories, narratives, and artists to be hired and produced, entertaining millions of television-viewers all over the world. We can't wait to see what comes next for the future of Tanya-land!
Aguijon Theatre Company | Chicago's oldest Spanish-language theater company has been around for almost 30 years serving communities in the south and west side of Chicago, and has finally been given the recognition they deserve. Between being the first Spanish-language theater company included as part of the Chicago Parks District Theater on the Lake in 66 years, to being featured at this year’s Destinos Festival at Steppenwolf's 1700 Space, the profundity and necessity of their work demonstrates that language isn't so much a barrier when the art speaks for itself. Marcela Munoz, the company's current co-artistic director and managing director, also received the $25,000 3Arts award in 2017 in recognition for her work as an actress and director making waves and money moves.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive, and we are always learning more and more about the community we live in, and the artists working and thriving here. We hope that 2018 we see even more wonderful and exciting things! To you! To us! To 2018!