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Meet Juan(ito) Doe
Free Street Storyfront
Chicago, IL
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Meet Juan(ito) Doe
From long days working on the Nabisco assembly line to long nights at el baile, from falling in love over pico de gallo and hot dogs to strange occurrences on the Ashland #9 bus, from a young boy sneaking into his mothers high heels to a young girl who feels trapped in her quinceanera dress, Meet Juan(ito) Doe offers a powerful and sometimes surreal portrait of working-class and immigrant life on the Southside of Chicago. Created by Free Street Resident Artist Ricardo Gamboa, in collaboration with Ana Velasquez and an ensemble of brown and down Chi-towners, Meet Juan(ito) Doe is based on true stories of Mexican-Americans in the city collected at bar crawls, neighborhood writing events, karaoke nights, street fairs and drag loteria nights. Chicago is a city where Mexicans are everywhere weve been here, and contributed so much to this city, but you really wouldnt know it by looking at mainstream media or textbooks. Or stages.

Indeed, Meet Juan(ito) Doe is the kind of play that is rare in Chicago theater. Not only does it tell the stories of a population routinely ignored in theatrical platforms  with rare exception, this is a city that still insists on importing Latinx stories from Texas and the coasts- but it is also a show that refuses traditional theatrical structures. Mixing performance styles borrowed from European physical theater traditions as well as the neighborhood chismosa (gossip), Meet Juan(ito) Doe is performed in a former [WHAT WAS THE STOREFRONT BEFORE] in the Back of The Yards neighborhood. Free Street has been making performance by, for, about, with, and significantly- IN Chicagos diverse communities since 1969, says Artistic Director Coya Paz. It wouldnt have made sense to collect stories from people in the community and then perform the actual play halfway across the city.  The storyfront serves as both performance space and a place where local residents are invited to stop by and watch rehearsals, share their stories, or participate in free workshops. This is more than a just a play, says Gamboa. Its about capturing the story of a people who came to Chicago and made it home. I wanted to do something that would speak to that kind of creative place-making.

Performances are Mondays and Fridays at 7:30pm from October 6th to November 10th at the Storyfront, 4346 S. Ashland Ave.

All performances are free or Pay-What-You-Can at the door. Due to the intimate nature of the space, we highly recommend advance tickets, starting at $5. ASL interpretation and co-programming for children will be provided for FREE! For dates, times, and programs visit

Ricardo Gamboa is an award-winning artist, activist and academic working in his native Chicago and New York City creating radically politicized work. In Chicago, Gamboa is a member of the Southside Ignoramus Quartet and Free Street Theater, resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists and founding adult creative partner of the controversial politically charged ensemble The Young Fugitives. In New York City, he is a fellow of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics EmergeNYC program and member of the New York Neo-Futurists. He is pursuing his doctorate degree at New York Universitys renowned American Studies program and is a Critical Collaborations Fellow (2016-2018) at the Tisch School of the Arts where he also received his M.A. in Arts Politics (2013). Gamboa has won several awards including a Joyce Award, MacArthur Foundation International Connections Award, etc. He has worked with over 5,000 young people in the hemisphere. In addition to Meet Juan(ito) Doe, his current projects include his underground live news show and podcast "The Hoodoisie," and his genre-bending, ground breaking webseries about 4 gay Latino doctoral students that are also witches "BRUJOS."

Founded in 1969 by Patrick Henry, Free Street Theater is dedicated to creating performance by, for, and with a wide-range of participants. As one of the the first racially-integrated theater companies in Chicago, Free Street has a long history of creating work that addresses pressing social issues from diverse points of view.


Free Street Storyfront (View)
4346 S. Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60609
United States




Owner: Free Street Theater
On BPT Since: Jan 23, 2014
Free Street Theater

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