Destinos Theater Festival showcases Latino stage artists, playwrights from across the city and the globe

Faithful to its mission, the Chicago International Latino Theater Festival, better known as “Destinos,” is hosting its fifth rendition through late November, providing the stage for stories to be told theatrically about the Latino community in Chicago and the greater Latin America.

With the passing last month of Myrna Salazar, co-founder and executive director of the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance (CLATA), the entity that organizes the festival, directors, producers and actors felt that the show must go on in her honor, celebrating the legacy of the Puerto Rican trailblazer who was a pillar in the local artistic community.

“We are doing what Myrna would have wanted: for the festival to continue to grow,” said V?ctor Salinas, Mexican playwright and actor, whose play “La P?jara de San Juan,” kicked off the festival earlier this month. The festival runs through Nov. 26.

“Destinos” has aimed, since its inception, to showcase the Latino diversity of the Chicago theater community, an effort that has solidified over the years.

Salazar’s life and legacy were celebrated at a gala opening for the festival at the National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA) in Pilsen. “Myrna was a warrior, super committed to the theater,” Salinas added.

Sara Carranza, CLATA’s director of communications, along with Christine A. P?rez, director of artistic and community associations, and Esteban Schemberg, production coordinator, are continuing that legacy.

Karla Galvan as Bruna in “Bruna la Bruja Bruta.”

H?ctor Iv?n Garc?a

“We are doing everything possible to make Myrna proud. We believe what she believed: that our voices [as Latinos] matter and that the only way to make them heard is to tell our stories ourselves,” she said.

“The most beautiful thing about our festival this year is that we are not trying to tell people how to live. We are all on this journey together,” she added.

This year, Destinos is highlighting local workssuch as “Las Migas,” by Mexican playwright Ra?l Dorantes, and “Tebas Land,” by Argentine Esteban Schemberg, as well as “The Wizards,” by Mexican-American Ricardo Gamboa.

“Local artists have a lot to say and they had to close [their ventures during the pandemic]. We wanted, with ‘Destinos’…for them to take center stage. This year their stories became more powerful,” Carranza said.

“Now that the world has been opening up, what is our place and what is our destiny?” Carranza wondered. One thing is certain: Myrna Salazar will forever remain the heart of the festival.

For more information about Destinos and to buy tickets, visit clata.org.

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