Albany Park Theatre Project Presents OFRENDA Review – A Heartfelt Meditation on Home

Albany Park Theatre Project OFRENDA
Ofrenda, a new work devised by Albany Park Theatre Project's youth ensemble and written by Isaac Gomez, offers audiences a kaleidoscopic look into the ways immigrants grapple with ideas of belonging and the notion of home. Powerful in its authenticity--the majority of the ensemble are first or second generation immigrants from countries throughout the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands--the play provides an urgent call for empathy amidst a news cycle dominated by attempts to strengthen borders and other-ize immigrants.
Albany Park Theatre Project OFRENDA

Imaginative Staging Adds Excitement to Ofrenda

When you first take your seat in Albany Park Theatre Project's audience, you may be wondering if there is more to the set than the open hardwood playing space and wall. Indeed, you would be correct, as there are many imaginative surprises in store over the course of Ofrenda. Rolls of paper, projections, and elaborately detailed pop-up books all transport you from location to location in refreshingly smart ways. Directors Stephanie Paul and Maggie Popadiak mix elements of dance and movement in with the storytelling as well, adding an expressive element to the production which viscerally communicates the emotions that words sometimes cannot.
Albany Park Theatre Project OFRENDA
Albany Park Theatre Project OFRENDA

Albany Park Theatre Project Shares a Patchwork of Stories

Although there is a playwright credited in Ofrenda's program, each of the thirty-two young cast members also has a hand in the content of Ofrenda. Sharing personal stories, reflections, and memories, the ensemble creates a patchwork of several thematically-connected stories. Whether addressing bombings in Damascus or their affinity for the chickens of Ecuador, each member of APTP's youth ensemble offers the insight and passion that only comes from the youth. The fact that some aspects of the subject matter can become weighty without ever weighing down the production is a testament to directors Stephanie Paul and Maggie Popadiak as much as it is a testament to the talents of the cast of 13 to 18 year old performers. Whether addressing issues of deportation, protest, identity, or war, this heartfelt cast retains an infectious and earnest hopefulness.


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Ofrenda is performed by 32 youth ensemble members of Albany Park Theater Project, all of whom are also co-creators of the devised work. 16 are veterans of Learning Curve, and 16 will make their APTP debut with Ofrenda. The cast members are: Ahmad Al-Badawi, Mohamad Al-Badawi, Schantelle Alonzo, Ariel Burns, Anthony Calderon, Jennifer Calderon, Melissa Carranza, Andrea Delgado, Maria Duran, Nichole Espineli, Itzel Espino, Nely Gonzalez, Johnny Hamzo, Ashlie Hawkins, Atreyu Kaunert, Jhazmin Lucero, Sarah Miller, Ana Morales, Teddy Morco, Chris Nieto, Phong Nguyen, Noe Rios, Samantha Romero, Mariana Rosas, Danny Sandoval, Anabel Sava, Jalen Serrano, Dayana Soto, Alex Suarez, Yailin Tejeda, Jade Trejo Tello and Melony Vizcarra.


Through June 2nd
Wednesdays at 7:30pm
Fridays at 8:00pm
Saturdays at 4:00pm and 8:00pm


The Laura Wiley Theater
5100 N. Ridgeway Ave.
Chicago, IL


$18 - $35

Tickets can be purchased by visiting the Albany Park Theatre Project website or by calling 866-811-4111.

Photos: Liz Lauren


Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago

Brent Ervin-Eickhoff is a director, writer, and educator based in Chicago, IL. He has worked with A Red Orchid Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co., Facility Theatre, and others as a director, assistant director, and in a variety of artistic capacities. Brent served as Co-Artistic Director and then Managing Director of Blue Goose Theatre Ensemble for three years, of which he was a founding member. His productions of Herculaneum and Bison? Bison. Bison! with Blue Goose were praised by critics and audiences. Bison? Bison. Bison! was selected and performed as part of Chicago’s Night Out in the Parks Initiative. An award-winning filmmaker, Brent’s films have screened as part of the Frog Baby Film Festival and Indianapolis 48 Hour Film Project. His play Puget Sound was workshopped as a staged reading as part of A Red Orchid Theatre’s Incubator Program in 2017. Brent graduated from Ball State University Magna Cum Laude with degrees in Directing and Theatre Education, as well as Ball State’s prestigious Academic Honors in Writing.

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