When our ensemble members read Carmen Rivera’s Julia De Burgos: Child of Water, we all knew it was the perfect play to kick-off our ninth season in Humboldt Park, the community we serve. Last February, UrbanTheater Company (UTC) participated in a unified event spanning four major cities, in a choral reading of Child of Water to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth and memory of Julia de Burgos. Jasmin Cardenas, our ensemble member, was the driving force behind Chicago’s participation in the choral reading, as well as the production of its Midwest Premiere, which was directed by ensemble member Juan Castañeda. As we fast-forward to November, UTC quickly solidified an exciting partnership with The Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture (NMPRAC), our main sponsor, to produce Child of Water at the museum. We successfully assembled an outstanding cast and production team. Carmen Rivera, the playwright, was flown out to Chicago from New York City to be with us during the hectic week leading up to opening night. José López, the Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center (PRCC), also our co-sponsors, made this possible. While in town, Carmen graciously agreed to participate in a university tour where she visited and talked to students about her play. The universities included Columbia College, University of Illinois-Chicago and Northeastern Illinois University. We were all pleased by Carmen’s professionalism, energy, charm and humility.
On November 7, we opened Child of Water to an amazing and enthusiastic sold out audience. The rest of the weekend was the same and we could not have been any more pleased. The following performance day, we conducted a post-show discussion with Carmen Rivera (playwright), Juan Castañeda (director), Dr. Liza Ann Acosta (dramaturge) and the cast. The conversation was engaging and educational for all involved. This production of Julia De Burgos: Child of Water is a true testament to the importance of UTC’s presence and work in the community. I’m truly grateful for these experiences and the partnerships we have made.
By Ivan Vega, Executive Director, Urban Theater Company