UrbanTheater Company (UTC) and Teatro Aguijón announced today they will be staging two separate productions of Not for Sale, Guadalís Del Carmen’s powerful play about gentrification, as a result of a unique and groundbreaking collaboration. Recently revised by Del Carmen, UTC will present the English-language version of the play, directed by Dominizuelan’s Wendy Mateo from March 8 to April 7 at UrbanTheater Company @ Batey Urbano, 2620 W. Division St. on the Paseo Boricua in the heart of Humboldt Park. Teatro Aguijón will present Spanish-language translation of the play translated and directed by Marcela Muñoz in mid-April at their home base, 2707 N. Laramie.
Not for Sale, which received its World Premiere last year as part of Destinos, the second annual Chicago International Latino Theater Festival (CLATA), revolves around Reynaldo, whose store has been a fixture of Division Street long before it was designated Paseo Boricua. The neighborhood around him is changing, though: property taxes are going up and so are property values. Reynaldo, like most of his neighbors and fellow business owners, is working hard to make ends meet but that hasn't stopped real estate agents from circling around his business. And now that the young owners of a recently opened wellness store next to his have started a campaign against Humboldt Park's traditional Fiestas Puertorriqueñas, Reynaldo's store has become the center of a larger debate: who has the right to shape a community's history and future? Who gets to lay claim to a neighborhood?
Writer, actor and comedian Soli Santos joins UTC’s original cast in the role of Alderman Nancy Torres. The rest of the cast for UTC’s production includes: Frankie Dávila (Reynaldo Rodríguez), Seamus McMahon (Mark Sokolov), Rebekah Roberts (Susan Sokolov), Andrew Pérez (Ricky González), Andre Tuss (Devin Thompson) and Jimmy Mann (understudy, Mark).
The production team includes: Ivan Vega, Miranda González and Antonio Bruno (producers), Jonathan Widell (production manager), Michelle Housh (stage manager), Melony Aponte (assistant stage manager), Harrison Ornelas (scenic designer), Gabriela Cordovi (sound designer), Liviu Pasare (projections designer), Sarah Albrecht (costume designer), Andrew Payne-Guillory (technical director), and Raquel Torre (movement).
“One of the things that was exciting about the show last year was to witness the audience’s investment and involvement in the show. We knew we ‘struck a nerve’ so to speak. In doing the show in Spanish with Aguijón, my other home, it was an opportunity to reach a wider audience with this show, and with most of the dialogue in Spanish, seeing and hearing it from a slightly different perspective,” said playwright Guadalís Del Carmen.
“We also wanted to improve the story and have it be more focused, giving each character more nuance and higher stakes,” continues Del Carmen. “One of the biggest changes is no longer having the real estate agent, Julio ‘Jules’ Aviles as a physical character, but more of an imminent presence in the play. This allowed me to give the other characters more room, to get to know the different dynamics and relationships. One of the things I wanted to have was the historical aspects of Humboldt Park, to showcase why this neighborhood is so important to the people that have lived here their entire lives”.
“A play is a living breathing document that is ever evolving. As a producer we are open to that evolution and we invite feedback. Our audience is diverse and very much a part of this story. We gathered all the feedback from the community, from our artistic colleagues, from the cast, and took the most common themes and shared them with Guadalís. The changes Guadalís has made are amazing. They have added nuances that are poignant and humorous. Those changes added with Wendy Mateo's vision are truly going to make the piece soar!,” added Artistic Director Miranda González.
UTC will be offering eight daytime performances of the play to Chicago area schools on Thursdays and Fridays like they did during the play’s original run.
“Having black and brown students being able to see themselves and the story of their community reflected on our stage was one of the most rewarding experiences,” said UTC Executive Director Ivan Vega. “We held a post-show discussion after our five daytime performances and hearing the reactions, eloquent questions and reflections from the students gave profound meaning to Not for Sale and the work UTC continues to do in the Humboldt Park community. I had schools wanting to bring 180 of their students to see the play but we can only hold 60, and schools from as far as Evanston and Rogers Park wanting to bring their students in. The response was positively overwhelming”.
Showtimes: Thursdays thru Saturdays, 7:30 pm; Sundays, 3 pm. Ticket prices are: $20, general; $15 students and seniors. Sundays, $30 (includes brunch at Nelly’s Puerto Rican Restaurant, 2458 W. Division St.). Closing Night Benefit Performance: $40, includes performance, food, drink and live entertainment. Admission is $5 for the previews, March 3-March 7. You can purchase your tickets online at http://urbantheaterchicago.org
Teatro Aguijón will announce their cast, crew and showtimes at a later date.
About the Playwright and the Director
Currently based in New York City, Guadalís Del Carmen was born and raised in Chicago. Her first play, Blowout, was produced by Aguijón Theater in 2013. In 2014, she was one of eight early career playwrights to be chosen to form El Semillero, a playwright writing group curated by ALTA (Alliance of Latino Theater Artists) in residency at Victory Gardens Theater. Guadalís was also selected as one of six Afro-Latina writers to be part of the first Afro-Latina Writers Retreat, which culminated in a Livestream of the work produced at the retreat. Guadalís’ play, Tolstoy’s Daughters, was part of UrbanTheater Company’s 2015 R.A.W. (Real Aggressive Writing) Series. Tolstoy’s Daughters went on to be selected as a finalist in Quick Silver Theater’s Playwrights of Color Summit which culminated in a public staged reading in Geneva, NY in June 2016. In 2017, Tolstoy’s Daughters would go on to be selected as one of 50 Playwrights Projects Best Unproduced Latino/a Plays, received an Honorable Mention in the Kilroys List, and is the 2018-2019 winner of Montclair State University’s New Works Initiative. Guadalís is currently Co-Coordinator of NYC Latinx Playwright Circle.
Wendy Mateo is a Chicago-based comedian, actor, writer, director and producer. Aside from directing, Wendy can been seen throughout the city's stages (The Lookingglass Theatre, The Playground Theater, MikeyO Productions) performing sketch comedy and theater. She also produces her own content as part of the duo Dominizuelan and debuting her new short film, Good Mothers.
About UrbanTheater Company
Founded in 2005, UrbanTheater Company serves as a pipeline for a diverse and culturally specific collective of chicago actors, designers, and producers who embrace the responsibility to create an environment full of honesty, integrity, representation, and acceptance in order to create innovative and accessible theater.
UrbanTheater Company engages itself in the work of community responsibility and strives to raise awareness and contribute to the important conversations concerning many of the social issues facing our diverse backgrounds. UTC’s current Board of Directors is composed of: Juan Carlos Linares (President), Jerry Conner (Vice-President), Marty McCaffrey (Treasurer), Miranda González (Secretary) and Ivan Vega.
For more information about UrbanTheater Company, visit http://urbantheaterchicago.org. Follow UTC on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/UrbanTheater, Twitter http://twitter.com/UrbanTheater, and on Instagram http://instagram.com/urbantheater.
About Aguijón Theater
Aguijón Theater is dedicated to creating exciting and meaningful theatrical experiences through the cultural exploration, discussion and performance of high quality Spanish-language and bilingual works. With impacting artistic work, Aguijón promotes diversity by challenging and inspiring its audiences to surmount idiomatic barriers and cross cultural boundaries.
Aguijón’s mission is to promote and foster theater which addresses social issues affecting the U.S. Latino community specifically and the general population at large; and to build bridges of communication and understanding among the new Latino generations, instilling in them pride in the richness of their cultural heritage. The Company produces classic and contemporary plays and, through artistic collaborations, literary adaptations and original works, exposes Latino and non-Latino audiences to high quality Spanish-language theatre for educational and literary purposes.
Aguijón does not discriminate based on nationality, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or political creed. The Company strives to increase creative and economic opportunities for actors, directors and theater workers of different racial and ethnic backgrounds and provide a forum in which to showcase their talents.
For more information, visit aguijontheater.com. Follow Aguijón on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AguijonTheater and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/aguijontheater.