El Nogalar, Tanya Saracho’s tale of humor and heartache in a changing Mexico, begins performances March 26, directed by Cecilie D. Kennan

Goodman Theatre and Teatro Vista announce a three-year producing partnership dedicated to new work by Latino Playwrights

 

Chicago, IL – Prolific playwright and Mexican Chicagoan Tanya Saracho brings US/Mexico border violence and class divide into sharp relief in El Nogalar, presented at Goodman Theatre, produced and commissioned by Teatro Vista, starting March 26, 2011. The Goodman’s fourth collaboration with Teatro Vista over 16 years, El Nogalar marks the beginning of a new three-year producing partnership dedicated to new work by Latino writers. Cecilie D. Keenan directs this world premiere by Saracho—a Teatro Vista resident playwright and “one of Chicago[’s] most talented young writers” (Chicago Tribune)—developed in a staged reading during the Goodman’s Latino Theatre Festival. El Nogalar (pecan orchard) is inspired by Anton Chekhov’s classic The Cherry Orchard and charts a Mexican family’s experience as their way of life is threatened by encroaching drug cartels, violence and economic upheaval. El Nogalar begins previews

March 26 (Opening Night is April 4) and runs through April 24, 2011 in the Goodman’s Owen Theatre; tickets are $10 – $42 (ticket prices are subject to change). The Scenemakers Board is the Contributing Sponsor for El Nogalar. Principal Support of Artistic Development and Diversity Initiatives is provided by The Joyce Foundation. Hoy is the Print Media Sponsor and The Chicago Latino Network is the Digital Media Sponsor.

“Tanya is an extraordinary artist, truly one of Chicago’s stand-out ‘triple threat’ writer/actor/directors, and this reimagined classic is the perfect way to kick off our three-year producing partnership with Teatro Vista,” said Goodman Theatre Artistic Director Robert Falls. “This initiative builds on 16 years of collaboration between our companies, which has resulted in such memorable productions as José Rivera’s Cloud Tectonics and Luis Alfaro’s Electricidad. Together with our Resident Artistic Associate Henry Godinez and Teatro Vista’s Artistic Director Eddie Torres, we are thrilled to deepen our commitment to developing new work by some of the country’s most gifted Latino playwrights.”

El Nogalar marks the fifth joint production between Goodman Theatre and Teatro Vista, a relationship that began in 1995 in the Goodman Studio at the theater’s former Columbus Drive location. In addition to Cloud Tectonics and Electricidad, other joint productions include Rivera’s Massacre (Sing to Your Children) in 2007 and El Grito del Bronx by Migdalia Cruz (2009, with Collaboraction). Teatro Vista has also performed in each of the Goodman’s biennial Latino Theatre Festivals.

“It’s remarkable how far our collaboration has come since Cloud Tectonics in 1995, when I was a co-founding member of Teatro Vista,” adds Godinez, who directed Cloud Tectonics. “The success of that production—the most ambitious for Teatro Vista at that point—was tremendously gratifying, and sparked an ongoing relationship between both organizations. It seems a natural progression to solidify this partnership and commit to the development of gifted Latino playwrights such as Tanya Saracho.”

Set in present-day Northern Mexico and infused with Spanish, Spanglish and Espanglés, El Nogalar is a comical and moving story about the choice between adapting to the changing world or being left behind.

Dunia (Yunuen Pardo), the Galvan family’s housekeeper, watches Maité Galvan (Charin Alvarez) and her daughters Valeria (Sandra Delgado) and Anita (Christina Nieves) spend their wealth and risk losing their home and beloved pecan orchard to a drug cartel. Despite warnings from Lopez (Carlo Lorenzo Garcia) and other family and friends, Maité ignores her declining fortune as ardently as she has ignored the changes in society happening around her. In the end, nothing is certain for the Galvan family—or for the housekeeper, who learned from their mistakes.

“When I was in school, I felt that Chekhov was the most Latino playwright I came across. I thought, ‘I know this dude, his characters. These women are my aunts, my cousins,’” recalls Playwright Tanya Saracho. “An adaptation of his play The Cherry Orchard was something I always wanted to do, and I am grateful for the support and encouragement of Cecilie, Teatro Vista and the Goodman to make it a reality.”

Adds Director Cecilie D. Keenan, “Tanya’s play draws such a clear picture of the class divide in Northern Mexico. The American view of these issues—and of Mexican culture, in general—is so often oversimplified. The characters and relationships in El Nogalar illustrate how complex and diverse the people of Mexico really are—and what is truly at stake for so many of them.” Keenan is producing director of Teatro Vista, where her directing credits include The Messenger, El Nogalar, Dreamlandia, Another Part of the House and Living Out. Elsewhere, Keenan recently staged the Jeff Award-winning Tobacco Road for American Blues Theater and Joel Drake Johnson’s End of the Tour at 16th Street Theater.

Keenan has tapped an award-winning design team for the production—Brian Sidney Bembridge (Set), Christine Pascual (Costumes), Jesse Klug (Lighting) and Joe Cerqua (Sound).

Playwright Tanya Saracho was born in Sinaloa, Mexico, and is a resident playwright at Teatro Vista, a Goodman Theatre Fellow at the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media at Columbia College Chicago, a resident playwright emeritus at Chicago Dramatists, an artistic associate with About Face Theatre, the founder of The Ñ Series and founder and former artistic director of Teatro Luna. She has been the lead artist in many of Teatro Luna’s ensemble-devised works, including Generic Latina, Dejame Contarte, The Maria Chronicles, Solo Latinas, Solo Tú, S-E-X-Oh! and Lunatic(a)s.

Her plays include an adaptation of The House on Mango Street at Steppenwolf Theatre Company (2009); Our Lady of the Underpass with Teatro Vista, commissioned by the Goodman (2009); Surface Day at Steppenwolf/Chicago Humanities Festival (2008); Jarred: A Hoodoo Comedy at Teatro Luna (2008); Kita y Fernanda at 16th Street Theatre (2008) and Quita Mitos with Teatro Luna (2006) and coming to Next Theatre Company in March 2011. Saracho is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Distinguished New Play Development project grant, and the winner of the Goodman’s Ofner Prize and a

3Arts Artists Award, was named Best New Playwright of 2010 by Chicago magazine, named one of nine Latino Luminaries by Café magazine and was a recipient of the inaugural Revolucionario Award given by the National Museum of Mexican Art.

Saracho’s directing/co-directing credits include Jarred: A Hoodoo Comedy; Solo Tú; S-E-X-Oh!; both productions of Lunatic(a)s; the remount of Generic Latina; The Maria Chronicles; and Solo Latinas. Stage credits as an actress include Neil LaBute’s Fat Pig at Renaissance Theaterworks in Milwaukee; Migdalia Cruz’s Another Part of the House at Teatro Vista; Living Out at American Theater Company and Teatro Vista; Electricidad at Goodman Theatre and La Casa de Bernarda Alba at Aguijón Theatre.

Upcoming projects include The Good Private for About Face Theatre and two Andrew W. Mellon Foundation commissions for Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

Tickets to El Nogalar ($10 – $42) are currently on sale at GoodmanTheatre.org. Tickets and subscriptions can also be purchased at the box office (170 North Dearborn) or by phone at 312.443.3800. Mezztix are half-price mezzanine tickets available at 12 noon at the box office, and at 10am online (promo code MEZZTIX) day of performance; Mezztix are not available by telephone. 10Tix are $10 rear mezzanine tickets for students available at 12 noon at the box office, and at 10am online on the day of performance; 10Tix are not available by telephone; a valid student I.D. must be presented when picking up the tickets, limit four per student with I.D. All tickets are subject to availability and handling fees apply. Discounted Group Tickets for 10 persons or more are available at 312.443.3820. Purchase Goodman Gift Certificates in any amount at GoodmanTheatre.org. The flexibility of Goodman Gift Certificates allows recipients to choose the production, date and time of their performance. Artists, dates and ticket prices are subject to change.

SWAN Day at Goodman Theatre Saturday, March 26, 2pm God of Carnage, Post-show Panel Discussion, Dinner at Petterino’s and 8pm El Nogalar Ticket prices vary; visit aauw-il.org

Now in its fourth year, SWAN Day (“Support Women Artists Now”) is an international celebration of women artists held in March—Women’s History Month. The American Association of University Women’s Chicago Branch hosts “SWAN Day at Goodman Theatre,” a day-long event that includes God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza (2pm), a panel discussing new plays by women on the Goodman stage, dinner at Petterino’s and the world premiere of El Nogalar by Tanya Saracho (8pm). Participants may choose and must register for each component separately: aauw-il.org