Three Cuban-American playwrights with Miami connections are represented onstage at Chicago-area theaters at the moment. It's a coincidence, this presence of voices steeped in the memories of a homeland all three men left as children, but there they are.
Nilo Cruz, the first Latino playwright to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (for Anna in the Tropics, which was commissioned by and premiered at Coral Gables' New Theatre in 2002), has a production of his play A Park in Our House at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater through Dec. 9. Set in Havana in 1970, it is inspired by memories of the years before a Freedom Flight brought Cruz and his family to Miami. A Park in Our House became the first Cruz work produced in South Florida when Florida Stage -- in the ritzy seaside Palm Beach County town of Manalapan -- staged it in 1998.
Luis Santeiro, great-grandson of former Cuban president Gerardo Machado, came to Miami in 1960 at the age of 12. An Emmy Award-winning writer for Sesame Street, he had several plays produced at the now-in-limbo Coconut Grove Playhouse -- including, in 1991, The Lady from Havana, inspired by the love-hate relationship of his mother and grandmother. That play is running through Sunday, Nov. 11, at the Illinois Theatre Center in Park Forest.
The third play is The Cook by Eduardo Machado, whose memoir-with recipes -- Tastes Like Cuba (Gotham Books. $27.50) -- has just come out. Machado, who left Cuba during Operation Pedro Pan, didn't grow up in Miami but has a number of relatives here. Nor has The Cook, inspired by Machado's visit to a paladar (a restaurant in a private home), been produced in South Florida. Yet. It runs through Nov. 18 at Chicago's largest regional theater, the Goodman.
For a bit more on this Cuba-in-Chicago convergence, check out this story from the Sun-Times.