Goodman Theatre revving up for Latino Theatre Celebration

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The Goodman Theatre’s Latino Theatre Celebration and its two related productions are taking shape.

Casting has been announced for “Another Word for Beauty” (running Jan. 16-Feb. 21 in the Albert Theatre), a world premiere, music-filled work by Academy Award nominee José Rivera that will feature music by Grammy Award winner Héctor Buitrago.

Composer Hector Buitrago will create the score for “Another Word of Beauty,” part of the Goodman Theatre’s Latino Theatre Festival.

Composer Hector Buitrago will create the score for “Another Word of Beauty,” part of the Goodman Theatre’s Latino Theatre Festival.

Directed by Steve Cosson and developed through a co-commission between the Goodman and the New York-based theater company The Civilians, “Another Word for Beauty” is inspired by the true stories of the inmates at El Buen Pastor women’s prison in Bogotá, Colombia, who compete in a beauty pageant intended by their jailers to motivate and rehabilitate them.

The prisoners, and the events and circumstances that led to the womens’ arrests, will be brought to life by a cast that includes: Stephanie Andrea Barron (Yolanda), Helen Cespedes (Xiomara), Monique Gabriela Curnen (Marilin/Magnolia), Dan Domingues (Danny/Maurico/Arturo), Danaya Esperanza (Luzmery), Zoe Sophia Garcia (Nora), Marisol Miranda (Carmen/Tatiana), Yun Pardo (Jeimi), Socorro Santiago (Ciliana), Heather Velazquez (Maikelyn/Eva) and Carmen Zilles (Isabelle).

Award-winning playwright Rivera, who marks 20 years working with Goodman Theatre on such plays as “Cloud Tectonics” and “Boleros for the Disenchanted,” describes “Another Word for Beauty” as “a deeply human story,” and explains: “I want audiences to understand the basic humanity of these women—to really have assumptions and stereotypes challenged and exploded. The whole point of good theater is to give a voice to those who don’t have a voice, and articulate whatever is in the air in that society at the time. We hope to raise the consciousness of who these incarcerated women are: three-dimensional human beings beyond the clichés of a hooker, a drug mule, etc.”

“Another Word for Beauty”was developed using The Civilians’ signature investigative process. Rivera, director Steve Cosson (who is artistic director of The Civilians), and a team of artists visited El Buen Pastor to research and interview inmates, guards, prison staff, pageant consultants and members of the Colombian justice system to fully understand the role the pageant plays. From this research, Rivera constructed the play, punctuated with music from Buitrago—a founding member of the seminal Latin Grammy Award-winning Colombian band Aterciopelados.

Steve Cossen will direct Jose Rivera’s “Another Word for Beauty” at the Goodman Theatre.

Steve Cossen will direct Jose Rivera’s “Another Word for Beauty” at the Goodman Theatre.

Also part of the Celebration will be Roberto Bolaño’s “2666,” adapted for the stage by artistic director Robert Falls and Seth Bockley. It will run Feb. 6-March 13, 2016 in the Owen Theatre.

In conjunction with these two productions, the Goodman will present an in-depth look at the vast range of contemporary Latino writers involved in theater. Working in tandem with some of Chicago’s outstanding smaller theater companies, the Goodman will present free staged readings and panel discussions that highlight the extraordinary careers and influential writings of Rivera and María Irene Fornés, two of America’s most accomplished writers for the stage. Additional programs in the celebration will focus on the poetry of Bolaño, Gabriel García Márquez and other seminal writers. The Latino Theatre Celebration will take place Feb. 15 -29 at the Goodman Theatre, Northwestern University and other Chicago locations.

Tickets ($25-$77) for “Another Word for Beauty” go on sale Dec. 4. Call (312) 443-3800 or visit

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