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In second year, Destinos expands to showcase more Latino theater

The Colombian troupe Circolombia combines circus acrobatics with dance and music in its show “Acelere,” running at the Yard at Chicago Shakespeare beginning Oct. 23.

The Colombian troupe Circolombia combines circus acrobatics with dance and music in its show “Acelere,” running at the Yard at Chicago Shakespeare beginning Oct. 23. | Roberto Ricciuti

A year ago, the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance debuted Destinos, a theater festival featuring productions by local, national and international companies. More than 9,000 people attended, taking in a roster of intriguing performances staged at local Latino and mainstream theaters.

“Our goal is to get Latino voices out there and to build our audience,” says Myrna Salazar, co-founder and executive director of CLATA. “I think for years our Latino theaters have been shortchanged in this regard.”

Salazar founded CLATA in 2016 with three Chicago Latino arts organizations — National Museum of Mexican Art, International Latino Cultural Center and Puerto Rican Arts Alliance — and the support of the MacArthur Foundation. In just two short years, the organization’s hugely ambitious Destinos is well on its way to becoming the country’s leading Latino theater festival.

Destinos: Chicago International Latino Theater Festival
When: Through Nov. 4
Where: Various locations
Tickets: Prices vary
Info: clata.org

For the current festival, beginning Thursday, the number of productions has risen from 10 to 14, with topics ranging from DACA to social change in the Latino community to politics and gentrification. “It runs the gamut,” Salazar says.

Some shows in the festival will be performed in English. Others, like Aguijón Theater’s staging of Dolores Prida’s “Casa Propia (A House of My Own),” will be performed in Spanish with English supertitles.

The satirical Los Angeles group Culture Clash will perform “An American Odyssey” at Victory Gardens Theater.

The satirical Los Angeles group Culture Clash will perform “An American Odyssey” at Victory Gardens Theater. | Provided photo

The longest-running (29 years) Latino theater in Chicago, now located in the Belmont-Cragin neighborhood, Aguijón aims to produce work in Spanish, and managing director and co-artistic director Marcela Munoz feels language should not be a barrier for non-Spanish speakers.

“We want audiences to be able to hear the rhythm of the language, to experience a work the way it was written,” Munoz says. “We’ve gotten a good response to subtitles and our audience has grown.”

Over in Humboldt Park, Urban Theater’s “Not for Sale” examines gentrification in the neighborhood, the company’s home base.

Written by Guadalis Del Carmen, it is 13-year-old Urban’s first commissioned work. The play’s director, Sara Carranza, says Destinos is an integral part of moving Latino theater forward.

“It’s helping us move to the next level,” Carranza says. “Working and talking with people on the international and national level is creating an important alliance.”

The Mexican Revolution is the backdrop for a “Macbeth” reimagining called “Mendoza” from Mexicao’s Los Colochos Teatro.

The Mexican Revolution is the backdrop for a “Macbeth” reimagining called “Mendoza” from Mexicao’s Los Colochos Teatro. | Provided photo

In a time when Latinos are treated as others and their voices marginalized, Destinos is on a mission to bring a diverse audience to Latino theater.

“I really hope this festival shows different audiences that we’re here, we’ve been here and we’ll continue to be here,” Carranza says.

“Not For Sale” runs Sept. 21-Oct. 20 at Urban Theatre, 2620 W. Division (urbantheaterchicago.org); “Casa Propia” runs Oct. 18-Nov. 25 at Aguijón Theater, 2707 N. Laramie (aguijontheater.org).

Here is a sampling of other entries from the Destinos lineup. For a complete schedule, go to clata.org.

“Musas (Muses)” (Sept. 20-23 at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre, 1700 N. Halsted; steppenwolf.org) Néstor Caballero’s play imagines a meeting of two extraordinary artists — Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and American writer Sylvia Plath — as they share their respective life journeys. Staged by Water People Theater in a co-presentation with American Writers Museum and The Poetry Foundation. In English.

Teatro Abya Yala explores masculinity in “El Patio (The Patio)” next week at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre.

Teatro Abya Yala explores masculinity in “El Patio (The Patio)” next week at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre. | Provided photo

“El Patio (The Patio)” (Sept. 27-29 at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre, 1700 N. Halsted; steppenwolf.org) Oscar Gonzàlez, David Korish and Janko Navarro from Costa Rica’s Teatro Abya Yala present a piece exploring the impossibility of fulfilling the societal idea of what it means to be a man today. In Spanish with English supertitles.

“Mendoza” (Oct. 2-7 at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn; goodmantheatre.org) Mexico’s Los Colochos Teatro with its radical reimagining of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” set against the 1910 backdrop of the Mexican Revolution. In Spanish with English supertitles.

“An American Odyssey” (Oct. 4-7 at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln; victorygardens.org) Los Angeles-based Culture Clash features the work of writers-satirists Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza. They find inspiration in real people and true stories forming the shadows, borders and badlands of America. In English.

“Acéléré” (Oct. 23-Nov. 4 at The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 E. Grand; chicagoshakes.com) The North American premiere of the Colombian circus troupe Circolombia is a high-energy spectacle of aerialists, acrobats and contortionists all wrapped up in a wild atmosphere of music, from hip-hop and reggaeton to drum and bass.