Performing on October 27th-29th at Urban Theatre Company in Chicago
“Where You From? What You Be About?” was a common saying growing up in a disenfranchised community in Chicago during the 1980's. Both the gangs and the police would stop you and pose these same interrogating questions. As a youth one had to navigate the streets knowing how to be clever and careful on answering those questions. “Where you from?” was asking what neighborhood you lived in and your response would give them an assumption of “What You Be About” or what gang you may be in. The gang culture of claiming “your” neighborhood, causing community divisions, still exists in Chicago today. As gentrification and the cost of living have increased in these marginalized communities the disparity has contributed to the increase gun violence in the last several years.
This autobiographical solo play is set in the historically Puerto Rican neighborhood of Humboldt Park Chicago in both the past and present. “Where You From? What You Be About?” tells a story of how one man and his family reconciles the influences and subsequent death of a family member due to gun and gang violence. A cousin’s funeral becomes the catalyst for confronting a buried truth, for facing the effects of growing up in poverty surrounded by violence, and the need for healing. Using humor and drama this transformational journey is an interdisciplinary solo play that includes spoken word, video projections, and a live DJ.
I will facilitate a free 2 hour workshop called Healing Circle that will cover themes from the play inviting ideas and strategies needed for community building, healing, and self-care. TheHealing Circle workshops will be offered to youth and adults in partnership with community organizations. The play and the workshop will be an opportunity for people to continue the dialogue needed for creating peace.
Directing Where You From? What You Be About? is:
EDWARD TORRES who recently directed La Canción by Candido Tirado at Repertorio Español in NYC. Also, Macbeth for The Public Theatre's Mobile Shakespeare Unit. Previously, he directed the California premiere of Water by the Spoonful at the Old Globe Theatre and the world premiere of Quiara Alegría Hudes’s The Happiest Song Plays Last for Goodman Theatre. He directed the world premiere of Kristoffer Diaz’s The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity at Victory Gardens Theater (produced in association with Teatro Vista), which was named Best Play of 2009 by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and Time Out Chicago, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and earned Joseph Jefferson Awards for Best Production and Best Director. He also directed subsequent productions Off-Broadway at Second Stage Theatre (2011 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play and Obie Award for Best New American Play) and at Geffen Playhouse to critical acclaim. Torres has been a producer for 18 years and is the cofounder and former artistic director of Teatro Vista. He was the recipient of a 2010 Arts Artist Award and was featured as guest director at the 2011 Eugene O’Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference. Torres has a B.A. in Theatre from Roosevelt University and an M.F.A. in film from Columbia College Chicago. He served on the Illinois Arts Council and on the National Endowment for the Arts Theater Panel (2005-07) (2013) and the MAP Fund Theatre Panel (2008).
Video excerpt of Where You From? What You Be About?: www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=302&v=4YkrOnjeCiQ
Upcoming New York Production:
Where You From? What You Be About? is made possible in part with public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. LMCC.net