Albany Park Theater Project, Chicago, April 27 – June 2 2018
Directors: Stephanie Paul & Maggie Popadiak. Playwright: Isaac Gomez. Sound: Mikhail Fiksel.
Sets: Scott Neale. Costumes: Izumi Inaba. Lighting & Projections: Elizabeth Mak. Objects: Ellie Terrell.
Photography: Liz Lauren.
Ofrenda and Albany Park Theater Project has a special place in my heart. In my continual search to find work and to make art that is socially relevant, the people at APTP and the work we are making together has come as a most precious gift and a balm to the events that are happening in the US and around the world. APTP brings Albany Park high schoolers together with professional artists to devise work that is grounded in the community that they live in. Ofrenda came from a series of interviews investigating the idea of home — what is it, why do people leave it, how do you remake it, what is it like to have it be threatened, and more. The show's main storyline follows an Ecuadorian woman named Daniela, who as a child is brought to America by her mother so that the family can be together with her working father, and who as an adult is forced to deny her homeland for a chance to stay in the place she now calls home.
Another storyline follows a woman named Amira, whose family left Damascus, Syria, after her father was detained and tortured and their city was bombed. Amira's father taught her how to draw, and we worked with one of the actors who is also a visual artist, Schantelle Alonzo, to create stunning charcoal sketches and stop-motion animation to chart Amira's journey from Syria to Chicago. Ellie Terrell (objects) worked with Schantelle to make these scrolls with illustrations that unfurled across the whole stage, all based off the original Amira's memories of the city she loved and grew up in.
As children are being separated from their parents and locked up in cages, as detention centers are being built across the country to hold people without trial, we stop to ask the questions: who gets to decide where home is for another? Why do I, an individual privileged by being born into a country of wealth and safety, get to withhold that from another person who wants those very same things and is willing to give up everything to give themselves and their children a better future? How do we make a society that is inclusive of all?