Hispanic Heritage Month: Program gives students lessons in Latino culture, theater

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A partnership between a Chicago theater group and high school gives youth a hands-on lesson in Latino culture and the art of theater.

Recently, students from Intrinsic Schools on the Northwest Side got a behind-the-scenes look into what it takes to put on a live production at The Miracle Center.

"Getting behind the scenes of the arts industry, what is it to be in a theater company, inside a sound booth, a lighting booth. A lot of people understand when they see the actors on stage but they don't get the insight from the costume designer, the playwright that will speak to them," said Vanessa Torres, communications director and producer at The Miracle Center.

The students toured the behind-the-scenes production of "There's a Coqui in my shoe."

"It was really important for us to bring it to The Miracle Center to bring it to life because of cultural meaning behind it. It's celebrating Puerto Rico's little mascot, the Coqui, that makes such a true impact on the island," Torres said.

The day wrapped up with an artist panel featuring guests from various backgrounds, including radio, graphic design and dance, as well as Lyrik Cruz, the creative director and choreographer.

"If it wasn't for people in my past growing up here in Chicago hearing their success stories and how they made it out or how they pursued their path in the arts I probably would not have been here. So it's important for me to come back and share what has been happening in my life with the kids from my community," Cruz said.

Students appreciated the chance to see how it all works and see representations of themselves on stage.

"Being a Latino myself it is very revolutionary seeing how you have young artists coming up from the middle of cities people don't even think of and expanding their horizons," said Taty Matos, a senior at Intrinsic Schools.

"It's kinda cool because I'm part Hispanic. To see a community run by Hispanics, it's nice to see something grow and they are making something for themselves," said Lucas Farkones, a senior at Intrinsic Schools.

The production of "There's a Coqui in my Shoe" runs through October 13.

The partnership is the first of its kind.

For more information, visit: http://www.themiraclecenter.com/
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