Contribute to The Wizards by Ricardo Gamboa


¡Hola! Chicago-based artist and activist Ricardo Gamboa is producing their play The Wizards in Chicago this fall, directed by co-producer Katrina Dion and starring co-producer and Chicago theater vet Sean James William Parris. 

As usual with Gamboa’s cultural activism (that you can Google), making theater isn’t just about making plays, it’s also about making change. So, Gamboa is producing the play in the rapidly gentrifying Pilsen neighborhood where The Wizards takes place. The Wizards will be produced in collaboration with and run at the historic A.P.O Cultural Center to help revitalize the theater space there. Already, The Wizards is selected to world premiere as part of the 5th Destinos, Chicago International Latino Theater Festival and has received support from the National Museum of Mexican Art. 

To make The Wizards happen, we’re asking for monetary support from our family, friends, community, lovers, exes, even our enemies. (We’ll even take money from your enemies. Send them this link!) 

“Hold up? What’s this play ‘The Wizards’ about anyway?” 

Here’s the official synopsis:

“The Wizards follows Amado and Sam, a Brown and Black genderqueer couple that move back to Amado’s hometown of Chicago after surviving a hate crime in New York the day after the 2016 presidential election. In their new apartment in the city’s gentrifying Pilsen neighborhood, the two find a Ouija board that puts them in touch the ghost of four boys who were members of The Wizards, a Mexican-American Motown cover band on the Southside during the 70s. The Wizards is a supernatural thriller about the histories and people that haunt us.”

Gamboa wrote The Wizards based on the stories of their parents to honor that generation of Chicago Mexican Americans who’s reality and stories are seldom represented on stages or screens even in their own city. The Wizards looks at that history and our current cultural moment of social strife to foster conversations about how we can share this planet better together. 

The Wizards was commissioned by the Goodman Theater where it received two sold out staged readings, one was part of the theater’s prestigious New Plays Festival. Now, Gamboa, Katrina Dion, Sean J.W. Parris, A.P.O. Cultural Center and Destinos International Latino Theater Festival are co-producing this baddie and are excited to bring it to life.

“So, you want me to give my hard-earned money to a f%#*ng play about Mexican ghosts?”

Yes. But, as stated earlier, The Wizards is more than just a play. It’s a revolution, bro.  

Gamboa was insistent the play premiere in Pilsen where its story is set. A.P.O Cultural Center is right smack in the middle of 18th Street and was a hub for Mexican American arts and activism back in the day. The A.P.O. Cultural Center held onto its place in the neighborhood despite intensifying gentrification and can use resources to support their programming and revitalize their beautiful theater spaces. The Wizards aims to draw support to A.P.O. 

While in residence at A.P.O. for the duration of rehearsals and the run of The Wizards, the production team will provide cultural and community programming including storytelling events and workshops and weekend theater institutes for Chicago teens. Gamboa, Dion and Parris have worked with literally hundreds and hundreds of adults and youth in Chicago, using theater to change lives and plan on using The Wizards as a launch pad to do more of that transformative work. 

You money supports the play and these programs. We know it’s tough times and people are out here in these streets trying to survive in an economy in peril by things like a pandemic and capitalism. We wouldn’t try to drain our family, friends, and community to make this show. We already have several donors to support The Wizards. We’re counting on our people to cover a fraction of production costs and aiming to fundraise just $10,000-$20,000 with this campaign. 

“‘Just $10,000-$20,000?’ What’s the total cost to put on this play?”

The budget for our show is $80,000. 

“W… T… F… Why does it cost so much?”

It’s a lot of money. 

But, here’s the deal: about 70% the budget is to pay people fairly for their time.  It takes a lot of people to put on a play: you have the director, actors, designers, tech crew, etc. The reality is most of these people never get paid adequately for their time in indie theater. Many theaters rely on free labor or paying small stipends. We don’t know those theaters’ situations but we don’t want that to be ours. We want to pay our people fairly. 

An additional 15% goes to A.P.O. Cultural Center to help off-set the cost of maintaining a big ol’ building like they have. The remainder of the budget is marked for equipment, community programming and audience development, i.e. marketing.  

“Fine. How do I help? How much should I give? What do I get?”

So, if you’ve read up to here and want to help all you have to do is donate on this site. Seriously: no amount is too small. Even single or five dollar donations add up. We’ll be listing all our donors at the show. If you give mucho dinero — like $500 or $1000 — we’ll list you as an “associate producer” and give you 2 free tickets to opening night and let you drink on us at our fancy after-party.  

Below are some bios so you can learn more about the team behind The Wizards and have confidence that we’ll put your money to use and won’t run to Puerto Rico with your cash to Puerto Rico just to contribute to neocolonial tourism and sip piña coladas.

Ricardo Gamboa - Playwright & Producer
Ricardo Gamboa is an award-winning artist, activist, cultural producer, and academic based in their native Chicago, creating cutting-edge theater and cultural infrastructure for the city’s Latinx community outside the city’s mainstream. In Chicago, Ricardo is a member of the Free Street Theater, the Goodman Theater Playwrights Unit, a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists, and founding adult partner of the controversial ensemble The Young Fugitives. They are finishing their doctorate degree at New York University’s renowned American Studies program and received their M.A. in Arts Politics from Tisch School of the Arts (2013). Ricardo has won several awards including a Joyce Award and an International Connections Award from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. They have worked with over 5,000 young people in the hemisphere. In 2019, Gamboa began working in Hollywood to accumulate the resources and network to further his mission of developing Chicago South Side Latino arts. Since then, Gamboa has written and produced for Showtime, HBO Max and Amazon Prime.

Katrina Dion - Director & Producer
Katrina Dion is a Chicago based director and producer, known for her progressive youth work at Free Street Theater where she acts as Director of Education. In her 7 years at Free Street, Katrina has directed over 10 original plays, mentored over 200 youth, and produced over 40 shows. Focused on building and supporting creative universes, where new futures feel undeniable, Katrina has also had work featured with The New Coordinates, The Fly Honey Show, and through “the band,” a performance art collective in Chicago. In addition, Dion acts as an adjunct professor at The Theatre School at DePaul University, her alma mater, where she teaches directing and production. In 2019, Dion was listed as one of the top “50 People Performing for Chicago Theatre.” Her work has been featured in magazines such as Teen Vogue, and she has facilitated workshops across the country at places such as The National Civil Rights Museum, the Obama Foundation, University of Chicago Lab Schools, ProPublic Illinois, and more. 

Sean James William Parris - Producer & Lead Actor
Sean James William Parris is an actor, writer, and professor. He was born in Los Angeles and raised in Miami and Georgia. Sean has been featured in plays at Steppenwolf Theater, The Goodman Theater, Free Street Theater, and regionally at the Armory and Syracuse Stage. Sean has also starred in television shows including Chicago P.D., The Chi, Brujos and the film Christmas Again on Disney Plus. He has worked with Free Street Theater as a vocal coach and director and has had an artist residency with the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago at Curie High School. He is currently a professor of acting at DePaul University, where he received his MFA, and has previously taught at BlackBox Acting Academy.

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Organizer and beneficiary

Katrina Dion
Chicago, IL
Ricardo Gamboa

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