The Incredible Journey – Chicago Reader

Six years ago, Brian Quijada and Teatro Vista teamed up to present Quijada’s solo show, Where did we sit on the bus?, an endearing and poignant portrait of growing up in suburban Chicago as the child of Salvadoran immigrants. The title of this show came from a question young Brian asked his third-grade teacher after learning about Rosa Parks’ story: where did Brown’s people like her family fit into the story? of America with race and oppression? Her teacher’s response (“They weren’t there”) is emblematic of the erasure of Latin history from our cultural narrative. Quijada’s story, filled with hip-hop, loops and poetry, combined his search to learn more about his heritage and the struggles of his working-class parents with his desire for his family to embrace his artistic dreams.

Somewhere beyond the border
Until 6/12: Wed-Sat 7.30pm, Sun 2pm; Windy City Playhouse, 3014 W. Irving Park, teatrovista.org, $49.50 (ten $15 Teatro for All tickets available for each performance on a first-come, first-served basis).

Now Teatro Vista returns to live performance under the new artistic direction of Lorena Diaz and Wendy Mateo with the world premiere of Quijada’s latest, Somewhere beyond the border. But this time, Quijada delves into the story of his mother and her dangerous journey from El Salvador through Guatemala and Mexico to the United States in the late 1970s, when the terrible civil war in his home country was intensifying. Using the framework of The Wizard of Oz and a score (also composed by Quijada) that combines cumbia, hip-hop, Mexican boleros and pop, it’s an uplifting, intelligent and moving show that bears its parallels to L. Frank Baum’s tale. (Although it’s worth noting that Baum was a racist who called for the genocide of Native Americans.)

Reina (Gabriela Moscoso) is a 17-year-old single mother in Chanmico, El Salvador, living with her mother, Julia (Claudia Quesada), and brothers, including good-natured Adán (Tommy Rivera-Vega). (As the narrator, Quijada points out, “Father figures don’t happen to be in this story.” she can pay a “coyote” 1,500 Mexican pesos for supposedly safe passage, she jumps at the chance, even if it means leaving her baby behind.

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