Hostos Center Presents WHERE YOU FROM? WHAT YOU BE ABOUT? This Wednesday
Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture presents "Where You From? What You Be About?" a solo dramatic performance by Eric Avilés created as an artistic response to his cousin's assassination by a rival gang member in Chicago. Winner of the 2018 New York Innovative Theater Award for Outstanding Full-Length Script and nominated for Outstanding Solo Performance, the play delves into the connection between poverty, racism, and gang violence.
The performance, Wednesday, June 3, 7:30 PM, is presented free online through the Center's facebook page --facebook.com/HostosCenterfortheArtsCulture and zoom.us/j/5252784114 Following the performance there will be an online talkback with Eric Avilés.
Set in Chicago's historically Puerto Rican neighborhood of Humboldt Park and directed by Chicago native Edward Torres, the performance moves seamlessly through time frames in a coming-of-age journey that revolves around a cousin's funeral. The cousin's death, due to a shooting by a rival gang member, becomes the catalyst for one man to confront a buried truth while facing the effects of growing up surrounded by poverty, violence, and the need for healing.
"Where You From? What You Be About?" was a phrase commonly used in the 1980s in the disenfranchised communities in Chicago. The questions are meant to uncover with which gang someone may be associated. Avilés himself, who found his way out of the Chicago gang culture, received a call in the middle of the night from his aunt informing him that an unidentified assailant with a pistol killed his cousin. At his cousin's funeral, the casket was decorated with gang mementos. The death spawned a sense of urgency in Avilés, which led to his writing "Where You From? What You Be About?" to address how poverty perpetuates crime and violence, and to show that there are impoverished youth who seek a better way of living.
The gang culture of claiming your neighborhood, causing community divisions, still exists in Chicago today. By telling the story of how one man and his family reconciles the death of a family member due to gun and gang violence, Avilés seeks to help answer such questions as: How do communities come together to help our youth? How do we create peace in marginalized communities?