Albany Park Theater Project (APTP) is the current recipient of the Chicago Detours Giving Initiative. APTP is “a multiethnic, youth theater ensemble that inspires people to envision a more just and beautiful world.” The guides at Chicago Detours donate 50% of their tips on public tours to support this positive and creative vision. That’ll ultimately be several thousand dollars by the time our partnership wraps up. So we wanted to highlight what the Albany Park Theater Project does and why we are proud to support them.
A Neighborhood Like No Other
The shows I’ve seen at Albany Park Theater Project are incredible. I was a theater kid all through high school and college. Countless hours spent watching rehearsals and performances of student, community, and professional troupes. Only a handful were as emotionally engaging and thematically potent as the productions at APTP. I’m not alone in feeling this way. APTP has presented multiple shows at the Tony Award-winning Goodman Theatre.
The secret to their success is in the young people from the neighborhood who devise and perform their original productions. Albany Park is one of the most diverse communities in Chicago, maybe even the whole country. Many immigrant communities have flourished here, most substantially Latinos from Mexico and Central America. But prominent communities from the Balkans, Middle East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia live there as well. So the students at the Albany Park Theater Project represent a huge swath of humanity.
Devising and Performing at Albany Park Theater Project
The neighborhood and performers offer a compelling enough reason to support APTP. But the unique nature of their theatrical performances deserves some explanation and praise as well. The Albany Park Theater Project practices devised theater. The tdf Theatre Dictionary defines it thusly:
“[D]evised theater typically begins with little more than a rehearsal space and a group of eager, committed theatre practitioners. Through a series of improvisatory theatre games or other conceptual ice-breakers, they start to tease out the kinds of stories they’d like to tell and the way they’d like to tell them. Over time, a text emerges, one covered with the fingerprints of each and every participant.”
So each of the high school youth ensemble members at APTP help create the show that they’ll eventually perform. This means the shows reflect the diverse cultural heritage and personal memories of Albany Park’s youth. I’ve seen two of their shows, “Home/Land” and “Ofrenda.” Both focused on the contemporary immigrant experience from the perspective of the young and vulnerable. I could not help but be emotionally affected, especially considering the current political relevance.
A Historic Venue
As a local architecture and history nerd, I couldn’t help but highlight the fascinating building which the Albany Park Theater Project performs in. APTP performs in the Eugene Field Park Field House. Local architect Clarence Hatzfeld designed the structure, which has stood in the park since 1930. Hatzfeld is best remembered for his Prairie School buildings for Chicago Public Schools. He changed up his style for this field house, opting for a Tudor Revival look. It lends a gracious air to the space.
Chicago Detours Giving Initiative
As we’ve written before, the guides at Chicago Detours always donate half our tips to a good cause. In the past, we’ve given money to a scholarship fund for local architecture and history majors. Other substantial donations have gone to the Rebuilding Exchange and Archeworks. Our donations have gone to the Albany Park Theater Project since this past spring. We average 275 guests a month, so our total donation will be in the thousands. It’s humbling to know that some of the work we do leads to the creative and cultural development of Chicago’s youth.
We hope you’ll join us in supporting the Albany Park Theater Project by attending a future show, by signing up for their online mailing list, making a donation on their website, or giving at the end of a tour.
– Alex Bean, Content Manager and Tour Guide