Teatro Luna was founded in June 2000 by Coya Paz and Tanya Saracho, with an original ensemble of ten women from diverse Latina/Hispana backgrounds. We came together because we realized that the stories and experiences of Latina/Hispana women were undervalued and underrepresented not only on the Chicago stage, but beyond. We were also concerned that the few parts written for Latina women often went to non-Latina actresses. We felt that we had to do something. Our answer was Teatro Luna, Chicago’s first and only all-Latina theater.
Teatro Luna had built a strong artistic reputation under the guidance of Co-Founders and Co-Artistic Directors Coya Paz y Tanya Saracho. But as the 10 year anniversary began to approach several leadership changes began to take form.
In January of 2009 Coya Paz stepped down as Co-Artistic Director of Teatro Luna, as Tanya Saracho took over sole Directorship from Jan 2009 to Dec 15 2010.
Since, Coya Paz has both completed her dissertation and launched a successful academic career both at the Theatre School at DePaul University and Columbia College Chicago. She has also continued and grown her artistic career as a respected director, writer, poet, and performer all over Chicago. She can be heard on Vocalo radio, as a frequent guest at the Paper Machete, and as a theatre director. Read more about her current and upcoming projects at www.coyapaz.com
Tanya Saracho stepped down as Artistic Director and her association with Teatro Luna officially in Jan of 2010. She has successfully continued her career as a playwright, director, performer, and has been receiving a large amount of attention for many high profile awards, commissions, and profiles. Read more at www.tanyasaracho.com. In August 2011 a profile in Latina Magazine can be found along with two other features of high note: American Theatre Magazine and The New York Times.
The rapid departure of these founders and it’s impact on the overall institution was helped by the ongoing strategic planning process launched in 2009 that continued through late 2010. Teatro Luna now has a solid 3 year plan to execute through 2013 to continue to sophisticate its administrative and artistic reputation and practices.
Through and after Tanya’s departure came the fourth re-assembly of Teatro Luna’s Ensemble, who is now comprised of: Liza Ann Acosta, Founding Ensemble Member Miranda Gonzalez, Suzette Mayobre, and Lauren Villegas.
In 2011, a new Executive Leadership team was formed, and new artistic associates were brought into the mix as well. The current staff structure at Teatro Luna is a three-prong approach: An Executive Director: Alexandra Meda, Director of Artistic Development: Miranda Gonzalez, and Literary Director: Liza Ann Acosta.
Although Teatro Luna’s name became synonymous with the Co-Founders, it is essential to recognize that Teatro Luna’s aesthetic hinges on ensemble and collaborative work; not only in performance but also in the creation and development Teatro Luna work– and has been since it’s inception. The talented Women who have come and gone from this organization have built this organization from an inspiringidea born from our co-founders. We thank them for their hard work and are excited to take the reins as we create new and original work for another 10 years. Our end goal is to do all this, while stabilizing and improving our,previously delicate, and (still) underfunded and under-resourced administrative systems. We have been investing in these systems through through training and support of the Kennedy Center’s Midwest Training program, various professional development courses, and national conference involvement.
The new leadership’s main goals are to forward the original principals that this dynamic and unique organization were founded on far into the next decade, with an even larger emphasis on pushing the boundaries of collaborative work and the development of Latina talent.
We approach our work as theater artists from the perspective that stories matter, that our histories matter, and that our stories represent experiences beyond our individual lives that are not often heard. We are best known for a unique ensemble approach developed in house to create performance based on autobiographical experiences and true-life stories. Whether we are building shows as a collective, incubating single author plays, or developing solo performance we begin by talking to each other about our lives, about our own experiences with the themes of the play or workshop, and use our varied experiences as the starting point to create performances that speak to diverse Latina lives. To date, Teatro Luna has created and produced seven original ensemble-devised performances and three remounts; two collections of short solo plays; and the incubation and production of four single author plays.
Our first show, Generic Latina, explored the diversity of Latina lives, complicating the notion of a “generic latina”. Generic Latina was created over a nine-month workshop period that included two separate “probaditas” (little tastes) of the work-in-progress, presented at Victory Gardens Theater. Generic Latina premiered in March 2001 at Phoenix Ascending Theater, where it played to sold out houses. Based on the success of Generic Latina, Teatro Luna was invited to create a new ensemble work at INTAR in New York City.
The result was Dejame Contarte (Let Me Tell You), a show that explored the 2000 Census and the particularities of being both Latina/Hispana and a Woman, focusing on the kinds of life experiences that cannot be tabulated by checking a box. Dejame Contarte premiered at INTAR in June 2001 and was remounted for a Chicago premiere at the Storefront Theater in February 2002.
Our third ensemble built work, The Maria Chronicles, focused on the media and casting industry from a Latina point-of-view, taking the audition as a starting point from which to understand how Latina lives are shaped by the media. The Maria Chronicles premiered in July 2003 at the Goodman Latino Theater Festival, and went on to enjoy a successful eight week run at our Pilsen theater space. We were invited to remount The Maria Chronicles at Theater on the Lake, where we enjoyed a sold-out run in August 2004.
The Maria Chronicles was followed by S-e-x-Oh!, a performance that takes up the complicated intersections between sex, gender, and latinidad. S-e-x-Oh! premiered at the 2005 PAC/Edge Festival in Chicago, running for three weekends in a workshop format where we solicited feedback from the audience after every performance. We then rewrote the show, which premiered in its current form at Chicago Dramatists in January 2006. S-e-x-Oh! ran to a sold-out crowd for eight weeks, and has since toured extensively.
Our next ensemble built project was Lunatic(a)s, a performance that built on the figure of the Mayan moon Goddess Ixchel in order to explore ideas about women, hysteria, and everyday insanities. Lunatic(a)s opened June 2007 at Chicago Dramatists for a seven week run. Lunatic(a)s earned a Non-Equity Jeff Award for New Work in 2008.
In November 2007, we premiered Machos, a project based on interviews with men and performed by Latina women. With generous funding from the Association of Performing Arts presenters, we collected interviews from 54 men in six different cities, and worked with an additional 50 men in performance workshops and internet surveys. The cast spent months learning to speak and move in diverse masculine styles. In January 2007, we presented a workshop version of Machos at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio, Texas. The final version of the show premiered for a sold-out eight week run at Chicago Dramatists, and was followed by a sold-out four-week extension at the 16th Street Theater. It received two Non-Equity Jeff Awards in 2008. Machos! the tour was kicked off at the Center on Halsted’s Hoover-Leppen Theatre and continues to tour around the country. The Ladies of Luna hope to revisit this groundbreaking and award-winning piece in a big way back home in Chicago to celebrate the show’s five year anniversary in 2012-2013.
In 2008 Teatro Luna produced two mainstage productions of non-devised works including Solo Tu and JARRED: A HOODOO COMEDY, and Season Nine brought back some audience favorites in new formats with exciting new approaches including S-e-x-OH! (The Remix) at 16th Street Theater and Lunatic(a)s The Remount which ran at Chicago Dramatists for an epic 12 weeks starting November 2009 and closed February 2010.
In honor of the 10 year anniversary of our first examination of Latina identity, the Lunáticas decided to take on the question: What has changed for Latinas over the past 10 years? Created and produced in 2000, the original Generic Latina was Teatro Luna’s pioneering inaugural production devised to combat the various Latina stereotypes dominating mainstream media. In March 2010 TL put together a writing group of 7 women who were charged to write a new play inspired by the original themes and topics covered by Generic Latina. The result was GL (Generic Latina) 2010. GL 2010 challenged people to confront old stereotypes and face new ones through original music, spoken word, and new autobiographical stories reflecting the diverse lives of these women: from one young woman’s legal battle to change her name, to an intimate portrait of a Brazilian’s first time wax (you mean to say that Brazilians don’t really wax that way)?
In addition to creating and presenting original ensemble work, Teatro Luna has nurtured new plays by emerging Latina/o writers. In March 2002, we premiered Kita y Fernanda, an original single author work by Mexican born playwright (and Teatro Luna cofounder) Tanya Saracho. Kita y Fernanda enjoyed a successful run with Teatro Luna, and subsequently was the runner-up for the METLife/Repertorio Espanol Playwriting Competition in New York City. Teatro Luna also organized an intensive two-month development workshop for Tanya Saracho’s newest play, Adnakiel. Adnakiel was a finalist for The Christopher Wolk Award at Abingdon Theatre in NYC. In August 2006, Teatro Luna premiered Tanya Saracho’s one woman play Quita Mitos at the Goodman Theatre’s Latino Theater Festival. Quita Mitos opened for a seven week run at the Viaduct Theater in Chicago in November, 2006. In August 2010 TL began to workshop former PlayLab Director Diane Herrera’s Lullaby which started as a series of writing assignments in our PlayLab program. It was produced at the Greenhouse Theatre Center for a three week run in September/October 2010.
Teatro Luna also runs the Solo Latinas Project, a multi-year workshop designed to incubate solo performance by diverse Latina writers. Over the past four years, participants have created over 40 new solo plays. Eight of these have been produced by Teatro Luna, as part of two separate full-length runs. Solo Latinas premiered in January 2005, and featured four short solo plays by Miranda Gonzalez, Diane Herrera, Tanya Saracho, and Marisabel Suarez, each on the theme of the way family and intimate relationships shaped their sense of their Latina identity. Solo Latinas ran for six-weeks. In March 2006, Teatro Luna premieres Solo Tu, featuring four solos about pregnancy by Desiree Castro, Diane Herrera, Tanya Saracho, and Coya Paz.
Building Community & Ongoing Programming
- Tl Anda
- Incubation Series
In 2009 we launched the pilot round of the LUNA LABS, a professional development programming arm that is offered free to the public, and is applicant based. The LUNA LABS are comprised of four unique but related LABS each serving different Theatre Arts vocations and is offered to both experience professionals, and those who wish to one day become professional Theatre Artists. Playwrights, Actors, Producers, Directors, and Dramaturges each find ongoing programming available year-round.
Teatro Luna is committed not just to creating new artistic work, but to maintaining an active community outreach program. We feel strongly that it is important for youth to feel connected to theater, and we work to develop future audiences and artists. We regularly present performance and writing workshops at schools and youth organizations, and we offer free and reduced rate tickets to youth who would not otherwise have the resources to attend our shows. In 2012-2013 Teatro Luna launches an ambitious new program: Teatro Luna YOUTH.
Teatro Luna ANDA is our touring arm that presents our original work and workshops around the country in University, Community, and private settings. For more info or to book us, check out our touring pages or email touring(at)teatroluna(dot)org.