By EACE Interns Jacob Watson and Rinska Prestinary-Carrasco
Last Tuesday, July 20, 2010, the Goodman’s Latino Theatre Festival was thrilled to present the work of Albany Park Theatre Project, one of Chicago’s most renowned youth theatre companies. Over 350 audience members filled the sold-out house of the Owen Theatre to watch an original performance created by this ensemble of artists ages 14-18.
We got a chance to talk with some of the performers before the show. We asked how they felt about performing for such a large audience, as their space in Albany Park seats less than 100. “I’m beyond excited to perform,” said David Gauna, who was looking forward to showing the audience “what APTP is about.” Kimberly Mayo, another member of the APTP ensemble, shared a similar sentiment: “I hope they enjoy our story – it comes from our heart.”
Words cannot describe what came next. Visually stunning and culturally rich, Feast moved its audience to laughter, tears, and revelation. The crowd was on its feet within seconds of the curtain call, and enthusiastic chatter followed stunned viewers into the lobby. “I didn’t expect to leave grinning from ear to ear” said Becky Bloom, who explained how impressed she was with the amount of talent exhibited by the young performers.
Jeff Glass, another audience member, was struck by the variety of stories presented in the work. “It was surprisingly multi-generational,” he marveled.
We caught up with the actors in the green room after the show and inquired about this aspect of their performance. “It’s what we do,” they responded simply. “We collect stories from Albany Park… to show that there’s more than meets the eye.”
And we weren’t the only ones who found more than we bargained for in Feast. Chicago Tribune blogger Chris Jones doesn’t usually attend – let alone review – youth theatre, but his glowing write-up of last Tuesday’s performance encourages readers to take doubters of youth arts programming and “drag them by the wrist to Albany Park.”
As the performers filtered in and out of the green room after the show, costume pieces and snippets of conversation flew through the charged air. “Accomplished,” “tired,” “fantastic,” and “crazy” were just a few of the emotions they expressed. When the performers were finally able to sit down with us, we raised the question we had been wondering most: what’s next for APTP? True to their artistic souls they replied, “Totally unpredictable.”