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Review: Yo Solo Theater Festival of Latino Solo Shows


I attended Program A of the Yo Solo Theater Festival of Latino Solo Shows at the Flat Iron Arts Building on Sunday (Media day). The festival will be:
Featuring six solo pieces by Latino writers from Chicago and around the U.S. Yo Solo is an event that will display the breadth of talent and the rich complexity of each individual performer as they bring their own personal experiences to the stage, collectively creating a beautiful collage about the Latino experience. In addition to six solo performance pieces, visual art installations and live music will add to Yo Solo’s festival vibe.
The first performance was "La Risa de Dios" written and performed by Febronio Zatarain:
La Risa de Dios captures the voices and stories of the Latino immigrant community of Chicago and how they see our city. Through monologue and song, Mr. Zatarain captures the joy, the heartache, and the challenges of living in the big city and the dreams that bring us here.
He certainly captured the heartache of living in Chicago and the dreams that often die as if they touched the third rail of the El. "La Risa de Dios" was moving and poignant as Zatarain conveyed the stories of multiple characters.

The second performance was "Guera" written and performed by Lisandra Tena:
In the interactive solo, Guera, the audience is treated as dinner guests in a restaurant, choosing "meals" from the menu. Each item on the menu is a 4-6 minute piece drawn from Ms. Tena's experiences with her father, mother, alter ego, and her identity

This piece was not only smart, but funny. Tena portrays a server in a diner and the audience is handed a menu before she begins. The menu has six items and she asks the audience what they want to "eat." If you go and see one piece you want to watch, speak up quickly! Tena is pictured portraying, I believe, her father in El Mexicano. It is mostly silent until a young girl, "Mija," enters the room. And you might need a tissue for this one.

I'm not a big theater goer, so I feel a bit constrained as to what I proper theater reviewer would say. What I can say is that Yo Solo looks like a great festival and I look forward to attending for years to come.

Each program runs about two hours and will be presented eight times over the course of the festival. Tickets are $15 per program; $10 for students, industry and anyone under 30. Festival Passes offering admission to all three programs are also available for $35; $20 for students, industry and under 30. For tickets and information, go to yosolofestival.com or call 312.226.9633.

Remaining shows:

Thursday, August 2, 8 pm (Program B)
Friday, August 3, 8 pm (Program B)
Saturday, August 4, 4:30 pm (Program B); 8 pm (Program C)
Sunday, August 5, 4:30 pm (Program C); 8 pm (Program A)
Monday, August 6, 7 pm (Program C)
Thursday, August 9, 8 pm (Program A)
Friday, August 10, 8 pm (Program A)
Saturday, August 11, 1 pm (Program A); 4:30 pm (Program C); 8 pm (Program B)
Sunday, August 12, 1 pm (Program A); 4:30 pm (Program B); 8 pm (Program C)

Key:
Program A = La Risa de Dios by Febronio Zatarain + Guera by Lisandra Tena
Program B = Highway 47 by KJ Sanchez + para Graciela by Sandra Delgado
Program C = Empanada for a Dream by Juan Villa + Antipoda by Rey Andujar

Disclaimer: I did attend the performance on media day and received a media pass, plus entry for my husband.

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