Why Our Guides Support Albany Park Theater Project

Albany Park Theater Project (APTP) is the current recipient of the Chicago Detours Giving InitiativeAPTP 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.

Albany Park Theater Project Ofenda Chicago Detours
Photo courtesy of Albany Park Theatre Project.

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.

Albany Park Theater Project Ofenda Chicago Detours
Photo courtesy of Albany Park Theatre Project.

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.

Albany Park Theater Project Ofenda Chicago Detours
Photo courtesy of Albany Park Theatre Project.

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

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Ellen

Private Tour Coordinator and Tour Guide

There is no shortage of things to discover in Chicago—I love being an urban explorer and uncovering its hidden places. I have an MA in Public History from Loyola University Chicago, and I have worked as a museum educator and kindergarten teacher. My desire to learn new things fuels my passion for educating others, which I get to experience every day as a Chicago tour guide. I live in the northern neighborhood of Rogers Park.

“Our guide Ellen was exceptional and gifted with a great personal touch.”
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GetYourGuide

Jen

Tour Guide

Whether you are a first-time visitor or a lifelong resident, the vibrant history and modern majesty of Chicago never ceases to amaze. I’m a graduate of Columbia College with an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Art. I’ve worked for many years as an educator at City Colleges of Chicago. As tour guide at Chicago Detours, I integrate my enthusiasm for culture and architecture with my passion as an educator. West Town/Noble Square area is home for me.

“Jen was a perfect storyteller and kept us spellbound for hours.”
Heather
TripAdvisor

Elyse

Tour Guide

With our Chicago neighborhoods, vibrant cultural institutions and nearly two centuries of larger-than-life stories, there’s never a dull moment here! I’m a fifth generation Chicagoan and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to guiding tours, I’m a creative writer and amateur genealogist. I also enjoy the city’s dynamic theater scene. You can also read overlooked stories from 19th-century newspapers on my “Second Glance History” blog. I live in River North.

Anthony

Tour Guide

Chicago is unique as it always evolves into the future while holding on to the past. I’m fascinated by how people latch on to old architecture but happily pave over others. My background is in theater and performance and I’ve been a tour guide here for more than 10 years. Currently I’m finishing my Master’s in Public History at Loyola University because I love to teach the history of this scrappy city. I’m in the Edgewater neighborhood.

Marie

Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

Chicago’s history is so fascinating, you could spend a lifetime uncovering its secrets…I’m willing to give it a try! I have an M.A. in US History from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and then pursued doctoral studies in Urban History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I love to learn new aspects of Chicago’s rich history and then share my knowledge as a tour guide with Chicago Detours. I live in Ravenswood.

“Marie was a bubbling fountain of information and contagious enthusiasm.”
Lorit
TripAdvisor

Sonny

Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

As a fourth generation Chicagoan, I have been living and loving Chicago by bike, on foot, public transit or automobile. I am a graduate of UIC where through the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, began my eagerness to understand the nature, history and impacts of urban planning and development. It is incredibly rewarding to give back to this wonderful city by helping out in the office of Chicago Detours. I live in the incredibly diverse neighborhood of Albany Park.
“Sonny was extremely knowledgeable about all things Chi-town.”
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Alex

Content Manager and Tour Guide

Chicago has so many neighborhoods, buildings, and by-ways that it’s hard to go long without seeing something new, or something familiar from a new angle. I studied Cinema History for my M.A. from the University of Chicago. I’ve worked as a culture writer for various publications and as an educator of the humanities at the City Colleges of Chicago. I’m thrilled to share my love of this city’s busy past and unique architectural spaces with Chicago Detours. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park.

“Alex was fascinating to listen to. He clearly knows his history and it shows.”
Katie K
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Amanda Scotese

Executive Director and Tour Guide

I’m an interpreter of personal stories from the past and the city’s landscape. I love to imagine what originally happened inside old unmarked buildings, and what forces have shaped their design. I studied Chicago history, architectural history, and anything Chicago-related through my M.A. in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. My love for stories was enriched by my B.A. in Literature from the University of Michigan. I’ve written travel articles for publications like Rick Steves’ Italy best-selling travel guides, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and The Chicago Food Encyclopedia. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of West Avondale.
“You can TELL Amanda is hyper-passionate about doing the research and getting the story that nobody’s heard before.”
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