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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Jenny Spencer

Second Advisor

TreaAndrea Russworm

Third Advisor

Harley Erdman

Fourth Advisor

Wilson Valentin Escobar

Subject Categories

Other American Studies | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Performance Studies | Theatre History


There is a rich tapestry of Latina/o/x theater in Chicago. Through in-depth interviews, I use first-voice narratives to construct four decades of Latina/o/x theater history with the artists who were founding directors and/or members of these companies: Latino Chicago, Latino Experimental Theater Company, Teatro Vista, Teatro Luna, and Urban Theater Company. My aim with this project is to listen carefully to Latina/o/x artists in Chicago so that I can play a role in amplifying their voices as they articulate their experiences in this Midwestern city they call home. I organized my findings into three chapters and have kept the artists’ voices and cultural products at the center. In “Chapter Two: The Contours of Color,” I focus on the color line at the Goodman Theatre and Victory Gardens, and examine how Latina/o/x theater artists undo the Black/White racial paradigm that has been traditionally used to theorize Chicago. I focus on production histories, programming initiatives, and the role of theater critics in perpetuating exclusive practices at mainstream theaters. The third chapter, “The Warp and The Woof of Latina/o/x Theater,” centers on approaches to theater making. I share their details about how the artists in this study organized their companies, their approaches to producing theater, and descriptions of their productions. I draw out the ways that Latina/o/x theater is always oppositional and that includes its content, forms, and various contexts. In “Chapter Four: Crafting Culture Through Theater,” I look specifically at the concept of latinidad and examine how Latina/o/x artists use theater to create a cultural identity that is unique to Chicago. The artists in this study define the purpose of theater for themselves, share details about their lives and how they navigate their city, a place that many of them describe as highly segregated. My concluding thoughts about Latina/o/x theater in Chicago rely on the idea that Latina/o/x theater is always political and persistent. It is worthy of study, and our work belongs in theater history books, archives, and on stages as part of the cultural record of the “American experience.”