Tuesday, August 3, 2021

FREE Theatre in Chicago: Sones de México Ensemble's Zulema Through August 21, 2021

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Exhilarating regional music and dance from the Grammy-nominated Sones de México Ensemble make a joyous event for the whole family. 

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On a spectacular musical journey of many thousands of miles—from her Chiapas home in Mexico to Chicago—young Zulema zig-zags through the culturally diverse landscapes of her homeland and our fair city along the way. 





August 5 at 6:30pm – Calumet Park (Calumet) 9801 S. Calumet Avenue 
August 6 at 6:30pm – Riis Park (Belmont-Cragin) 6100 W. Fullerton Avenue 
August 7 at 3pm – Portage Park (Portage Park) 4100 N. Long Avenue
August 12 at 6:30pm – Hale Park (Clearing West) 6258 W. 62nd Street
August 13 at 6:30pm – Hermosa Park (Hermosa) 2240 N. Kilbourn Avenue 
August 14 at 3pm – Dvorak Park (Pilsen) 1119 W. Cullerton Street
August 15 at 3pm – Harrison Park TBC (Pilsen) 1824 S. Wood Street) 
August 19 at 6:30pm – Davis Square Park (Back of the Yards) 4430 S. Marshfield Avenue 
August 20 at 6:30pm – La Villita Park (Little Village) 2800 S. Sacramento Boulevard
August 21 at 3pm – Marquette Park (Chicago Lawn) 6721-6757 S. Kedzie Avenue

If a performance is cancelled due to inclement weather, it will be rescheduled as follows: August 8 at 3pm (Calumet Park, Riis Park or Portage Park); August 22 at 3pm (Harrison Park, Davis Square Park, La Villita Park and Marquette Park).

Goodman Theatre returns to Chicago Parks this summer with Zulema—Sones de México Ensemble’s electrifying new work with Music Director Victor Pichardo (the Goodman’s Pedro Páramo and upcoming American Mariachi) written by Dolores Díaz and co-directed by Goodman Resident Artistic Associate Henry Godinez and Marcela Muñoz, Aguijon Theater Co-Artistic Director. Produced in partnership with Chicago Park District’s Night Out in The Parks, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), Chicago Latino Theater Alliance (CLATA) and the National Museum of Mexican Art, this FREE three-week engagement spans 10 park locations citywide. In addition, a special finale performance featuring a spectacular cast of 70+ artists will conclude the run. Zulema appears August 5 – 21 at various Chicago park locations (see below); admission is FREE, running time is one (1) hour, no intermission. Visit GoodmanTheatre.org/Zulema for additional information and to register for a performance. The finale performance is slated for September 2 (location and details TBA). For updates on health and safety guidelines, visit NightOutInTheParks.com. Goodman Theatre is grateful for the support of PwC, LLP, Corporate Sponsor Partner.

“Not only is it thrilling to welcome the Goodman Theatre back into Chicago’s parks this summer, but to also premiere Zulema—an exciting new concert event for the whole family which features our city’s famed Sones de México Ensemble,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “Music has the power to build bridges between cultures and generations. As we spotlight this important artform in our Year of Chicago Music, Zulema and the other extraordinary artworks we have in store will help us build stronger relations with one another.”

“It is so exciting for us to work in partnership with these great Chicago arts institutions to bring this new musical production to the stage,” said Juan Dies, co-founder of Sones de México Ensemble. “Zulema emerged from an idea by Zacbe Pichardo, one of our musicians, on the occasion of our 25th Anniversary. A team of talented creatives helped us bring this concept to the stage. The story represents a common 21st Century human drama translated into a multi-cultural musical journey, rooted in Mexican music.”

Added playwright Dolores Díaz, “I’m honored to collaborate on a narrative that honors Sones de México Ensemble’s indigenous roots, demonstrates the variety found within and outside the Latinx community, and considers the permeability of human-made borders. Their music celebrates positive cultural exchange and invites people to come together in mutual appreciation. I’m happy to help share this story.”

Co-Director Henry Godinez, who returns to the Chicago Parks following last fall’s acclaimed production of Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak On It! by Cheryl L. West said, ”It’s always an honor to work with my old friends in Sones de México, with whom we’ve collaborated at Goodman on Pedro Páramo and will again on American Mariachi. And it’s especially meaningful to be combining forces with playwright Dolores Díaz—my former student from Northwestern’s Writing for the Stage and Screen MFA program—and the amazing Marcela Muñoz of Aguijón Theater Company, on this magical and moving story of a young girl’s courageous journey to her new home in Chicago. It’s in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Sones de México’s own journey—from their musical roots in México to our great city of Chicago.”

“Partnering in this endeavor is an honor. We are excited to be part of this musical, theatrical journey that celebrates the diversity of sound within our cultures, which transcends all borders,” said Myrna Salazar, CLATA Co-Founder and Executive Director. 

"This artistic collaboration will beautifully celebrate musical traditions of Mexico and the U.S. and allows people to celebrate together again—which is something we all so desperately need,” said Carlos Tortolero, Founder and President of the National Museum of Mexican Art.

Sones de México’s Zulema is presented as part of the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks series, supported by the Mayor’s Office and Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Now in its 9th year, the 2021 Night Out in the Parks program presents cultural events year-round in neighborhood parks throughout the city. The Chicago Park District in partnership with over 100 local artists and organizations, present engaging events and performances that enhance quality of life across Chicago and amplify the artistic and cultural vibrancy in every neighborhood. Through multiple disciplines, which include theater, music, movies, dance, site-specific work, nature programs, and community festivals, the series aims to support Chicago-based artists, facilitate community-based partnerships and programs, cultivate civic engagement, and ensure equity in access to the arts for all Chicagoans. To further extend the reach of these cultural, arts and nature experiences, the Chicago Park District has mounted a virtual platform to spotlight the diversity of Chicago’s artistic offerings and provide equitable access to some of these performances for all Chicagoans and visitors alike.


Sones de México Ensemble is Chicago’s premier folk music organization specializing in Mexican ‘son,’ a genre encompassing the roots of mariachi music and other regional styles, including huapango, gustos, chilenas, son jarocho, and more. The ensemble was formed in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood in 1994 by four talented musicians and educators including Victor Pichardo (music director) and Juan Dies (producer). They soon incorporated as a not-for-profit organization to keep the tradition of Mexican ‘son’ alive in its many regional forms. The group has performed thousands of concerts, released six CDs, concert films and multimedia presentations, and founded a Mexican Music School in Chicago in 2015. The organization is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization with a mission to promote greater appreciation of Mexican folk and traditional music and culture through innovative performance, education, and dissemination. For more information, visit sonesdemexico.com.

Music Director Victor Pichardo, Sones de México Ensemble co-founder, award-winning composer and educator, was born in Mexico City and has been a bandleader for almost 40 years. His training in Mexican folk music has spanned most of his life. He learned firsthand, orally from master artists in Mexico’s various musical regions. In 2005, he earned a degree in music composition from Columbia College Chicago, which he has used to integrate folk idioms in orchestral music. He has collaborated as music advisor and director with Goodman Theatre in the stage productions of Pedro Páramo and the upcoming American Mariachi.

Playwright Dolores Díaz is a Chicana playwright from the border city of Laredo, Texas. She is currently in residence with TimeLine Theatre, developing work with Broken Nose Theatre, and teaching Chicago Public School students via the National High School Institute at Northwestern. Most recently, she served as a guest artist with Mosaic Theater in Washington, DC and as playwright for Shattered Globe Theater’s Protégé Program. In the fall and spring she will teach at Columbia College and Texas Tech University, respectively. Díaz is a graduate of Northwestern’s MFA Program for the Screen and Stage and serves as Dramatists Guild Co-Representative for the Chicago Region.Chicago’s theater since 1925, Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit arts and community organization in the heart of the Loop, distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and community engagement.

Co-Director Henry Godinez is the Resident Artistic Associate at Goodman Theatre. His Goodman directing credits include Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak On It! by Cheryl L. West, Charise Castro Smith’s Feathers and Teeth, The Sins of Sor Juana and Mariela in the Desert by Karen Zacarías; José Rivera’s Boleros for the Disenchanted (and world premiere at Yale Repertory Theatre); Regina Taylor’s Millennium Mambo; Luis Alfaro’s Electricidad and Straight as a Line; The Cook by Eduardo Machado; Zoot Suit by Luis Valdez; the Goodman and Teatro Vista co-production of José Rivera’s Cloud Tectonics and the 1996–2001 productions of A Christmas Carol. He also served as director of the Goodman’s Latino Theatre Festival. As an actor, Godinez appeared most recently in Goodman’s The Winter’s Tale, 2666 and the Goodman and Teatro Buendía of Cuba world premiere of Pedro Páramo, and at Writers Theatre in the title role of Quixote: In the Conquest of Self. He has also appeared on television in Chicago PD, Above the Law, The Beast, The Chicago Code, Boss and Chicago Fire. Co-founder and former artistic director of Teatro Vista, Godinez is the recipient of the 1999 Theatre Communications Group Alan Schneider Director Award, the Distinguished Service Award from the Lawyers for the Creative Arts and was honored as the 2008 Latino Professional of the Year by the Chicago Latino Network. Born in Havana, Cuba, Godinez is a professor at Northwestern University and serves on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Arts Council.

Co-Director Marcela Muñoz is a director, actor, teaching artist, and theater translator. She is the Managing and Co-Artistic Director of Aguijón Theater, Chicago’s longest-running Latino theater company. Besides her long history with Aguijón Theater, her Chicago stage acting and directing credits include Teatro Luna, Teatro Vista, Victory Gardens Theatre, and Goodman Theatre. Other directing credits include Urban Theater Company, Chicago Dramatists, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has also been Assistant Director at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Writers Theatre. As actor/director she has participated in international theater festivals in Peru, Argentina, and Colombia. Deeply committed to mentoring and creating opportunities for young artists, she developed and leads the Nuestra Cultura Theater Program at Aguijón Theater for After School Matters. She studied Communications at DePaul University, is a graduate of The School at Steppenwolf, and a 3Arts Award recipient.

The Chicago Park District has served Chicago residents for more than 85 years. It is a Gold Medal Award-winning organization, which recognizes excellence in park and recreation management across the nation. For more information about the Chicago Park District’s more than 8,800 acres of parkland, more than 600 parks, 26 miles of lakefront, 12 museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons, nearly 50 nature areas, thousands of special events, sports and entertainment programs, please visit ChicagoParkDistrict.com or contact the Chicago Park District at 312/742.PLAY or 312/747.2001 (TTY). Want to share your talent? Volunteer in the parks by calling, 312/742.PLAY. Follow us at Facebook/chicagoparkdistrict, on Instagram/chicagoparks and on Twitter @chicagoparks.

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors. For more information, visit Chicago.gov/DCASE.

Since 2016, the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance (CLATA) is committed to showcasing thought provoking works of Latino theater artists, inspiring cross-cultural exchanges, with national/international counterparts. CLATA produces the renowned Destinos: Chicago International Latino Theater Festival, Destinos al Aire, and other programs that preserve cultural heritage and solidify Latino arts and culture in Chicago for generations to come. Follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at the handle @LATINOTHEATER. More Info: Clata.org

Located in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, the National Museum of Mexican Art is one of the most prominent Latino cultural organizations in the country and the only nationally accredited museum dedicated to Mexican art and culture. In 2020, the Museum earned the honor of being named one of America’s Cultural Treasures by the Ford Foundation. The National Museum of Mexican Art strengthens artistic and cultural diversity in Chicago while illuminating the rich art and history of Mexico. Its Permanent Collection consists of more than 11,000 pieces dating from 200 BCE to the present day. The Museum has presented over 150 exhibitions, provides arts education to 52,000 students each year, and serves over 187,000 annual visitors from 60 countries. Admission is always free. Visit NationalMuseumofMexicanArt.org.

Chicago’s theater since 1925, Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit arts and community organization in the heart of the Loop, distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and community engagement. Led by Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the theater’s artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres), large scale musical theater works and reimagined classics. Artists and productions have earned two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards and more than 160 Jeff Awards, among other accolades. The Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” Its longtime annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, now in its fourth decade, has created a new generation of theatergoers in Chicago. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production and program partner with national and international companies and Chicago’s Off-Loop theaters.

As a cultural and community organization invested in quality, diversity and community, Goodman Theatre is committed to using the art of theater for a better Chicago. Using the tools of the theatrical profession, the Goodman’s Education and Engagement programs aim to develop generations of citizens who understand the cultures and stories of diverse voices. The Goodman’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement is the home of these programs, which are offered free of charge for Chicago youth—85% of whom come from underserved communities—schools and life-long learners.

Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation of the new Goodman center in 2000.

Today, Goodman Theatre leadership also includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Dael Orlandersmith, Steve Scott, Kimberly Senior, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. Jeff Hesse is Chairman of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Fran Del Boca is Women’s Board President and Megan McCarthy Hayes is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.

Produced in partnership with Chicago Park District’s Night Out in The Parks, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), Chicago Latino Theater Alliance (CLATA) and the National Museum of Mexican Art, this FREE three-week engagement spans 10 park locations citywide. In addition, a special finale performance in Millennium Park, featuring a spectacular cast of 70+ artists will conclude the run.

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