By Sindy Castro

Hosting the Latina/o Commons Satellite Conversation at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, IL  with Teatro Luna on November 2nd was enlightening and eye opening, but also reassuring. It was wonderful to see a group of younger Latinos in one room together. Some in the mid of their careers and others just starting out, Chicagoans having just graduated or others transplanted here from their homes to continue their dreams. I mention “younger” Latinos because I feel like our veteranos were already at the larger convening and I couldn’t help but thinking how interesting it was that there were two groups of Latino artists having similar conversations in TWO different cities, but also asking myself, “where do these two groups come together?”

How do we bridge the gap from those established Latino artists and those of us just starting out? Or those of us just graduating? Myself, having gone to a public university where I was rarely exposed to Latino theatre history, craved and appreciated that ONE class I had while getting my undergraduate degree. Three years out of school, I still crave to learn more. But where do I go? How do I access this information? This is something most of us face when graduating from
college, but I feel is multiplied by a theatre community where the Latino point of view is the minority. How do I access 1) the theatre community and 2) my role as a Latina/o in the theatre community? Where do I fit in? I feel like we could have all shouted at the end of our Saturday session, “I want to learn!”

One of our older artists said something to the effect that he hopes that the younger generation doesn’t stay with their open hands in front of them waiting for a handout and create those opportunities for themselves. I agree with this! Wholeheartedly, I agree that we need to make opportunities for ourselves. We can’t go through life waiting for things to change. We need to create that change. We need to take ownership for our futures.

But how? We need guidance. We need to learn from those who came before us. We need to learn how they got to where they are now. We need mentorship. This word I believe was mentioned a lot in the larger convening and it was something that also kept coming up in our smaller meeting. Mentorship. Theatre leaders and theatre makers get to where they are by having been mentored by someone they admire. Why are we not doing more of this in our community?

The next steps to these convenings, in my opinion, is creating opportunities for further development. Creating the space for younger artists to learn from the leaders of our community. Mentor us on auditioning. Mentor us as playwrights and help us define what it means to be a Latina/o playwright. Mentor us on business. Mentor us on applying for grants. Mentor us on where we can access this mentorship.

To quote one of participants at our Satellite event, “When I succeed, everyone in this room succeeds. When I fail, everyone else will be there to help.” How can we as Latina/o identified organizations in Chicago come together to teach each other and help us all grow together? How can we learn from our current leaders in the Chicago theatre community?

We are a younger generation of theatre enthusiasts. Capture our energy. We want to learn! We want to be mentored! Teach us!

To gain some insight into the Chicago satellite conversation, visit: https://storify.com/SindyICastro/howlround-satellite-conversation-chicago.html

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