During the 2015/2016 Season, the Goodman will present three works by Latino/a writers: Charise Castro Smith’s horror comedy Feathers and Teeth; José Rivera’s Another Word for Beauty, a musical exploration of a Colombian women’s prison and an adaptation of Roberto Bolaño’s soaring novel 2666. This abundance of Latino/a work reflects a substantial shift in the Goodman’s programming priorities over the past two decades; Artistic Associate Henry Godinez, who also directs Feathers and Teeth, has fostered and championed the work of countless Latino/a playwrights, directors, designers and actors during his tenure at the theater. “Before I directed the Goodman/Teatro Vista co-production of Cloud Tectonics by José Rivera in 1995, the Goodman had never produced a play by a Latino writer,” Godinez recalls.
In 2003, Godinez spearheaded the Goodman’s first Latino Theatre Festival, which showcased Latino theater artists from around the city and the world, including Chicago’s own Teatro Vista, Teatro Luna and Aguijón Theater Company, as well as the Marta Carrasco Company of Barcelona and Certain Inhabitants’ Theatre of Mexico City. Over the course of the next decade the Goodman hosted five more Latino Theatre Festivals while simultaneously producing more Latino work in its regular subscription season. Works by playwrights like Karen Zacarías, Eduardo Machado, Luis Alfaro and Quiara Alegría Hudes were featured in the Albert or Owen Theatres while small Latino/a companies expanded their audience bases by performing in the Festival—providing Chicago audiences more chances than ever to enjoy the works of these world-class theater artists. “Building on the momentum of the Goodman’s Latino Theatre Festival, it is incredibly gratifying to now see Latino work as an integral part of the Goodman’s season programming, and the commissioning of Latino playwrights as an ongoing priority,” Godinez comments.
“It is incredibly gratifying to now see Latino work as an integral part of the Goodman’s season programming, and the commissioning of Latino playwrights as an ongoing priority,”
This fall, Godinez focuses on helming Feathers and Teeth. The play has made two appearances in the Goodman’s New Stages Festival, first as a staged reading in 2013 and then as a workshop production in 2014; during both processes Godinez served as director while playwright Charise Castro Smith fine-tuned the script. “It is such a pleasure to be part of the development of a new play, especially one as interesting as Feathers and Teeth,” remarks Godinez. “The play has grown most significantly in the clarity of its arc as a thriller, and how best to keep the audience in suspense until the very last minute. That affects how the characters evolve and how the plot lines are revealed.” As Feathers and Teeth receives its world premiere, Godinez adds Castro Smith to the ranks of the playwrights whose work he has shepherded to the Goodman stage. “Charise takes realism and infuses it with a combination of 1970s campy television and truly frightening elements of a horror thriller,” Godinez says. “She does so without ever compromising the central story of a teenage girl’s genuine, heartbreaking loss and grief. It’s remarkably human.”