Play focuses on realities of living in a biracial, bilingual city

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]heater-goers in Chicago have seen a rise in the prominence of Hispanic productions. Between Teatro Luna, Teatro Vista and various other companies around town, it’s not hard to catch a play starring Spanish-speakers. However, very few of them are likely to offer the same bombast offered in “The Real Life Adventures of Jimmy De Las Rosas.”

The play, written by Chicago native Ricardo Gamboa, stars a super-powered teen, and looks to shed light on some very real social, racial and political issues. The titular Jimmy is a 13-year-old who struggles with life as a superhuman teen in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. His psychic powers take him on an adventure to do battle with mutant Chihuahuas, befriend other super-powered teens, and ultimately save his undocumented mother and grandmother from soul-sucking machines.

If any of that conjures imagery of comic book fantasy, it’s because the show’s creators wanted that. Even the show’s promotional flyers feature a cartoon Jimmy leaping through the air with a karate kick-pose into a shadowy Chihuahua silhouette.

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Poster for “The Real Life Adventures of Jimmy De Las Rosas.” Courtesy Free Street Theater.

The show’s “superhero parallel” is completely by design said the show’s director, Coya Paz. Jimmy can’t draw too much attention for fear that any unwanted attention could endanger his undocumented caregivers, she said. Using the superhero story tropes as a sort of modern mythology. She and playwright Gamboa are try to tell a fun story, with realistic issues at its core.

Gamboa describes writing “Real Life Adventures” as a way of filling a deficit he’s noticed in the Chicago theater scene. Though there are numerous plays about Mexican-American life, they all lack a distinct Chicago flavor.

“They weren’t telling the stories of the people of here,” he said. “You know, the history and reality of being down and brown and from Chi-town,” as he put it.

“The Real Life Adventures of Jimmy Der Las Rosas” looks to be an attempt to capture the life Gamboa refers to as “the realities of living in a biracial, bilingual urban community.”

“These young people are dealing with some serious s***, some serious caca,” he described. He further explained that the play is asking some pretty big questions in regards to growing up with undocumented family in Chicago. “Who gets to be illegal and who doesn’t?” posed Gamboa.

Even though dealing with heavy issues, Gamboa also knows that his play is unconventional. “I do not need to see another play with white people in a living room, where they have some secret revealed… another play with a three act structure,” he said.

Instead, he wants to create what he calls a local mythology. With the help of director Paz, they hope to invoke the superhero genre to tell a Chicago story. Paz even compared it to Spider Man’s origin story of being bitten by a radioactive spider. “When you hear about immigrants crossing the border, when you hear your parents surviving some Chicago neighborhoods a few decades ago,” Gamboa said. ”It’s superhuman.”

“The Real Life Adventures of Jimmy De Las Rosas” will have a six-show run, appearing throughout different parks in Chicago. All shows are free and appropriate for all ages.

All shows start at 6:30 p.m.

Piotrowski Park | July 31
4247 W. 31st St. Chicago, Illinois 60623

Calumet Park | Aug. 4
9801 S. Avenue G Chicago, Illinois 60617

La Villita Park | Aug. 5
2800 S. Sacramento Chicago, Illinois 60608

Davis Square Park | Aug. 12
4430 S. Marshfield Ave. Chicago, Illinois 60609

Avondale Park | Aug. 13
3516 W. School St. Chicago, Illinois 60618

These are outdoor performances, so bring a chair, a blanket and a picnic. Have fun! For more information visit www.Freestreet.org.

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