Stages

Review: Andares at Chicago Shakes Introduces Indigenous People of Mexico With Stories and Song

Andares is a lively and poetic narrative about the lives, ancestral myths and culture of the indigenous people who live in remote corners of Mexico. Presented by the Makuyeika Colectivo Teatral of Mexico, the production is now at Chicago Shakespeare Theater for a short run through Sunday, October 27. It’s part of Destinos, the 3rd Chicago International Latino Theater Festival.

Josué Maychi, Lupe de la Cruz, and Alexis Orozco, playing the role performed by Domingo Mijangos in Chicago. Photo by Abraham Villafaña.

Andares, which is best translated as “pathways,” is performed by three actors accompanied by an excellent musician. Director Héctor Flores Komatsu conceived the devised narrative through a yearlong expedition to hundreds of indigenous communities in Mexico, part of his Julie Taymor World Theatre Fellowship.

The stories are told in Spanish and several dialects including Maya and Zapotec, with English subtitles. We learn about the characters’ childhoods, about animals and birds, their experiences with mothers and grandmothers, their love of music and fiesta, and their first loves. There is fierce criticism of the modern world and the way its customs and commerce extinguish the ancient cultures and rob indigenous people of their lands. There’s even an HT to our president and a pointed comment about not paying for a wall.

The performers are Josué Maychi, Domingo Mijangos and Lupe de la Cruz. Accompanying them on guitar and cajon (a box-shaped wooden drum on which the musician sits) is Raymundo Pavón Lozano. He is from Veracruz and performs in its Son Jarocho tradition of regional folk music. During a short break in the performance, Pavón Lozano introduces himself and plays a solo.

Mijangos performs as a “muxe,” (pronounced mooshez), a member of a third gender in the Zapotec culture of Tehuantepec. Muxes are male, but dress and live as women. Wearing a sweeping black skirt and a shawl wrap, Mijangos dances and tells his story of love and loss. Maychi and De la Cruz create many characters as they perform in story and song.

Andares runs a brisk 80 minutes with a simple setting, a few props (a broomstick, clay masks and a pot) and quick costume and accessory changes. The scenic design concept is by Komatsu with scenic painting by Jesus Giles and lighting by Bryan Guerrero.

Andares continues Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier through Sunday. Buy tickets for $35-$45 here.

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