Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-01-16
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



THEATER With 'The Displaced,' homeowners find possession isn't easy
by Catey Sullivan

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

For horror fans, this is a season of fearsome bounty. While Ike Holter's frightfully good The Light Fantastic brings the screams to Jackalope Theatre, Haven Theatre premieres Isaac Gomez' The Displaced, opening in previews Thursday, May 31.

Gomez applies the genre of terror to an everyday occurrence that can be as scary as any demonic possession: Gentrification. In his Pilsen-set play, an upscale interracial couple finds their new home isn't exactly uninhabited. Non-spoiler: The previous tenants, a Mexican family, are determined to make life hell on earth for newcomers Marisa ( Karen Rodriguez ) and Lev ( Rashaad Hall ).

"This play began as a vehicle to help me understand where my place here was," said Gomez, 27. "It was also to hold myself accountable. What does it mean to be on each side of gentrification? And what if you have similar roots as the people you're displacing?"

Gomez's plot begins as the couple settles in to their new home. Seemingly innocuous minor nuisances ( lights flickering, pictures falling off the walls ) rapidly escalate into events both inexplicable and alarming ( bloody, headless chickens turning up where you least expect them ). Eventually, the plot veers dead-on into the realms of the fiendish. Gomez draws on the strikingly similar rituals of Catholicism and Santeria as he explores the impact of well-off newcomers moving into a historically working-class Latinx neighborhood.

"I had family members who are deep, deep into Santeria," Gomez said of the ancient, ritualistic African-Caribbean religion that slave owners and other colonizers tried to co-opt into Christianity. Gomez doesn't practice santeria, but he understands it. "Faith gives you power. We all need things to believe in, things that are bigger than ourselves whether it's Islam or Judaism or Christianity or Buddhism," he said.

As a Mexican American who grew up in El Paso, Texas, surrounded by kin- and skinfolk, Gomez is familiar with the perils of gentrification. "I love Pilsen—the murals, botanicas, spiritual seers. It seems so familiar to me," he said of the long-time Latinx neighborhood on Chicago's Southwest Side. "It's heartbreaking to me to see business and families that have been in Pilsen for generations getting pushed out, little family-owned taquerias turning into white-napkin restaurants. "

For Director Jo Cattell, a native of the United Kingdom, the current political climate is horrifying even without the specter of a chickening.

"As immigrants, we struggle to find our place. When you feel you've finally achieved that and then you start getting pushed out? That feels like a horror story to me," Cattell said.

Also among life's most terrifying elements: Breaking up with your significant other of many years. For Lev and Marisa, the move to Pilsen is supposed to be a fresh start for their crumbling relationship.

"Everything is breaking around them and so is their relationship," Cattell said. "That feeling of being trapped, with no safe place to turn. That feeling is something we're all afraid of."

Gomez has been in Rogers Park for more than two years. He moved to Chicago for an internship at the Goodman after earning his bachelor's degree at the University of Texas, Austin.

"This is a city where artists are not afraid to ask hard questions. That's what really impressed me and a big part of why I wanted to stay here," he said.

Gomez's first Chicago home was in South Shore, where he had first-hand experience with some of the issues in The Displaced.

"One of my earliest memories in Chicago is go going to a Target on Cottage Grove and the cashier telling me, 'You are the wrong shade of brown to be here,'" he recalled.

"I knew I wanted to write a play that dealt with race as well as gentrification," he said. "I knew my main characters would be an interracial couple—Mexican and African American—because I wanted to explore the dynamics when race and gentrification intersect," Gomez said.

In The Displaced that intersection is the stuff of nightmares—something else of which Gomez is aware.

"As a kid, I had terrible nightmares. Horrible, violent, dreams. When I was younger I would talk about them. Lots of times when I dreamed something bad would happen to someone, it would then actually happen. So after this happened a few times, my mom and dad were like, 'we don't want to hear about your dreams anymore.' So I stopped talking about them. But I still have them."

Cattell hopes The Displaced both frightens people and makes them think.

"I hope they're scared," she said. "I also hope [the play] helps people take a look at their own role in their community. This conversation is so much more complex than any single person or single couple."

Haven is giving The Displaced its world premiere, but the production's story goes back millennia.

"We are all living on stolen land," Gomez said. "Before gentrification we had colonialism. Physically, emotionally and spiritually the displacement takes a toll. Obviously on the people being displaced. But also on the people pushing them out."

Haven Theatre's The Displaced runs May 31-July 1 at The Den Theatre's Bookspan Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave.. Tickets are pay-what-you-can for previews through June 5, and $18 during the regular run. Visit .

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Digital lottery, rush tickets for 'Fiddler' 2019-02-02 - Broadway In Chicago announced that there will be a digital lottery and rush tickets for the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof, ...

Gay News

Firebrand Theatre Announces Casting for Chicago Premiere of QUEEN OF THE MIST 2019-01-21 - CHICAGO ( January 18, 2019 ) — Firebrand Theatre is pleased to announce full casting for its Chicago premiere of QUEEN OF THE ...

Gay News

New authors take on hard-hitting subjects at Playwrights Festival 2019-01-16 - With this year's crop of student one-acts, Pegasus Theatre Chicago is tackling homophobia, gentrification and other urban ordinariness that carries a political charge ...

Gay News

Fillet of Solo Storytelling Fest, Archy Jamjun, A Boy & A Diva Jan. 18, 25 2019-01-16 - Two-time The Moth GrandSLAM winner Archy Jamjun premieres his debut one man show, A Boy & A Diva, Jan. 18 and 25, as ...

Gay News

'Hedwig' tour in Chicago in 2019 2019-01-16 - John Cameron Mitchell—the Tony-winning, Golden Globe-nominated co-creator of Hedwig & the Angry Inch—will bring his rock spectacle to the United States for the ...

Gay News

Groundbreaking 'I AM... Fest' April 27-29 2019-01-16 - Black Lives, Black Words International Project will launch the I AM… Fest, in partnership with Goodman Theatre. This first-of-its-kind international festival will take ...

Gay News

Johnson/Nash book release party Jan. 31 2019-01-16 - A joint book release celebrating E. Patrick Johnson's Black. Queer. Southern. Women: An Oral History and Jennifer Nash's Black Feminism Reimagined: After Intersectionality ...

Gay News

OUT on Stage' Jan. 17 on Dekkoo 2019-01-16 - OUT on Stage: The Series will debut Thursday, Jan. 17, on LGBT subscription-based streaming network Dekkoo. Zach Noe Towers hosts the show, which ...

Gay News

18th Annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival line-up named 2019-01-16 - SketchFest Executive Producer Jill Valentine announced the official line-up for the 18th Annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, taking place through Jan. 20 at ...

Gay News

'Nina Simone' through March 2 2019-01-16 - Northlight Theatre, under the direction of Artistic Director BJ Jones and Executive Director Timothy J. Evans, continues its 2018-19 season with Nina Simone: ...


Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.