Painting, Poetry and Patriarchy – Chicago Reader

Last fall for the Destinos: Chicago International Latino Theater Festival, Aguijón Theater (the oldest Latinx company in the city) unveiled the world premiere of Rey Andújar’s The Great Tyrant (dramatic download), a fantasy based on the life of singer “La Lupe” (Lupe Victoria Yolí Raymond). This year, the company focuses its attention and significant talents on two iconic women in Mexican art: the 20th-century painter Frida Kahlo and the 17th-century poet and composer Juana Inés de la Cruz, or Sor Juana.

silk ribbons
Through 11/20: Fri-Sat 8:00 PM, Sun 3:00 PM, Aguijón Theater, 2707 N. Laramie, aguijontheater.org, $35 general admission (or 2 for $60), $20 students, educators and seniors, $12 for Belmont-Cragin residents with ID with zip codes 60634, 60635, 60639, or 60641. Presented in Spanish with English surtitles.

silk ribbons, written by Norge Espinoza Mendoza and directed by Sándor Menéndez, is set in a hospital on the eve of Día de los Muertos. The Painter (Aguijón co-artistic director Rosario Vargas) cradles empty bottles of wine in memory of her happier days past and works sporadically on a painting, while The Nun (Claudia Rentería) mediates between the fiery artist and the controlling doctor (Marcopolo Soto).

It’s clear who The Painter represents, even before starting a monologue about Leon Trotsky’s death. (Kahlo, who had once been lovers of the exiled Soviet revolutionary, was briefly suspected of being complicit in his murder by Ramón Mercader.) But the nun’s role is revealed more slowly and deliberately—appropriate, given Sor Juana’s real gifts hidden from historical considerations for centuries until Octavio Paz and others championed her as a major poet of the Spanish Golden Age and a proto-feminist.

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