Generic Latina | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Generic Latina, Teatro Luna, at Phoenix Ascending Theatre. The show begins with the performers holding signs: Indigeonous, African, European, Ecuadorian, Pinarican, Jewruvian, Argentexican. Together they make the point that there is no generic Latina--that U.S. Hispanics comprise many different races, ethnicities, and nationalities.

This engaging exploration by Chicago's only all-Latina company is dispensed in "probaditas," little tastes or sketches developed in workshops over eight months. Based on company members' own experiences, they've already been performed in different combinations around the city, though this is the first full-length performance. Director Aarati Kasturirangan has included pieces that cover a wide range of subjects, from lesbian punk girls to children confused about their racial identity to clashes between Hispanic groups. Some works are poignant--a Cuban-American mother (the forceful, charismatic Marisabel Suarez) explains to her daughter (Erika Martinez) that they're not immigrants but refugees--while others are sharply funny, especially Carolina Jimenez's inspired solo pieces portraying a "generic Latina" in apron and crucifix. Slide projections flash compelling facts--for example, there are 14 million Hispanics in the United States--that reveal why Latinas cannot be ignored.

Though the performances are occasionally uneven and the production comes to a slightly incoherent end, this is an entertaining and thought-provoking show, both for those who are unfamiliar with Latina culture and those who are part of it.

--Jennifer Vanasco

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