Chicago, this is our play.
So often we complain about the lack of representation in the media, I know I do. I can’t go see a perfectly good movie or play without wondering to myself where all the people like me are? When do I get to see the romantic comedy with the intellectually savvy queer Latina? Or the serious drama that does not portray people of color as evil doers or servants? Well Tour Guides is about you. It’s about all those times we sat around a few beers talking about our continuous love affair with Chicago.
Tour Guides was written and performed by Jon Cofield, Kimberly Dixon, Steven Evans, Stephanie Gentry-Fernandez, Carron Little, Sage Xaxua Morgan-Hubbard, and Sandra Posadas with a couple pieces written but not performed by Ricardo Gamboa, Tricia Hersey, and Rupal Soni.
The directing was as amazing as you’d expect from Coya Paz. Just like all her previous work, Coya finds ways to push boundaries and draw audiences in to a place that feels both like home, and completely new. A special note must be said about the movement directing of Esteban Andres Cruz. I attended a rehearsal of Tour Guides a couple weeks before opening night where I saw Esteban in action; He really found a way to help the cast feel and look more at home on stage.
This world-premiering production came out of the Poetry Performance Incubator of The Guild Complex. This is the first time the Guild has attempted to combine poetry with Theatre, and they succeeded. Some of the actors are new to the stage, some are award winning performers. There was a bit of stumbling at the beginning of the play and the beginning of a few pieces, but once they got going, this cast really took off. The actors really showed their belief in the work being presented which made the audience really love them. Amid shouts, laughter, and “Oh yea I’ve been there” moments, I really found myself being swept up by the honesty with which the cast performed, as well as the honesty and beauty of the pieces they wrote. I too “ride the L in a fugue state” sometimes, I too know the comadres yelling out from their porch “wachale!” to the kids running around; and yes, I know the corners that have claimed loved ones.
Tour Guides is about those little things that stir us when someone talks about our neighborhood, and also about the pain and laughter that unites us no matter where you grew up. Most of all, it’s the opportunity to see and celebrate what it means to call Chicago our home.
I definitely recommend you go see this play. As a regular Theater go-er, I can tell you that plays like these are unique. Not to nock Chicago theatre, because I love Chicago theatre, but plays like Tour Guides that manage to be funny, touching, political, timely, and honest all the same time are sadly hard to come by.
There are only 4 performances left of this 6 show run. It will play this coming Friday/Saturday as well as next week at 730pm at the Chicago Center for the Performing arts. There are still tickets available so get them before the play sells out, The Guild has a chance to win a $500 matching gift for online ticket purchases when you recommend a friend to go see the play, and the person who sends the most friends will receive a collection of Poetry from Gwendolyn Brooks.