By Daniel Mendoza
American Jornalero finds a second life with Teatro Vista at UrbanTheatre, after its initial run at Victory Gardens Theatre where it was originally presented as part of Destinos, the second annual Chicago International Latino Theatre Festival.
American Jornalero is a story of the world of Mexican-immigrant day workers and is set in 2006, on a street corner in New York City. With a literal fence line, a group of day laborers wait for coffee, for work, for news, and for their luck to change.
Unfortunately things get complicated for the men when they realize that their idle standing causes alarm within their community. Soon enough, we are introduced to another group of men, with much more malicious intent. These are unemployed American men, who are there for the sole purpose of intimidating the immigrant workers with the ever looming presence of ICE.
The chain link fence which gets broken and repaired over and over again is an incredible symbol for the divide the groups create and destroy between themselves. They see themselves as complete opposites, when in reality they are all men who want to provide for their families. Unfortunately the show also reminds us what that means.
For example, on one side we see the American homeowners who collect unemployment, on the other side we see four immigrants waiting for a payphone to ring from their families who they haven’t seen in years, and pooling pocket change for a cab.
American Jornalero reminds us of the struggle that immigrants have to face for the most basic needs, and sadly from 2006 to 2018 not much has changed. Thankfully, American Jornalero leaves us with the message that there’s always hope for the future.
Together, director Nate Santana and playwright Ed Cardona Jr., create an incredible visual story about classism, equality, and how far a man will go for his family. Apart from the occasional jarring slur that took me out of the show for a moment, American Jornalero is a beautiful story that had me captivated. Although it is set in 2006, American Jornalero is as relevant as ever and I highly recommend my readers catch the show at UrbanTheatre before it closes on Nov. 18th.
By Ed Cardona Jr.
Directed by Teatro Vista’s Ensemble Member, Nate Santana
SHOWS: October 25 – November 18, 2018
Thursdays – Saturdays 7:30PM | Sundays 3:00PM
UrbanTheater | 2620 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622
Tickets: $25 | Seniors & students tickets (must show valid ID): $20