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For two nights this fall, Steppenwolf’s 1700 theatre is transformed into Tumbao, a local family bar and the best place for a salsa night, baptism, seance or wedding reception. Unbeknownst to the owners, the ally cats have decided to make the Tumbao family the basis for a radionovela, broadcast from the bar itself. By transmitting to the rest of the world what happens within Tumbao’s walls, they hope to share the infectious energy of the family to keep the community thriving through its desperate fight against gentrification.

TUMBAO by Jo Cattell, Lorena Diaz and Wendy Mateo
Monday October 3 and Monday October 10 at 8pm



DON CHIPOTLE by Juan Francisco Villa, directed by Jo Cattell
presented by terraNOVA Collective and the Playground Theater in association with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
Featuring: Lorena Diaz, Wendy Mateo, Isabel Quintero, Karen Rodriguez,& Avi Roque
Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph Street, Chicago
August 25 – September 27, 2015
A raw comic book fable that sets our hero and his sidekick on a quixotic quest across New York City that proves to be anything but ordinary.

“This script is dripping with creativity…” Buzz on Stage

“Don Chipotle offers youth stage talent for tale of hope, dreams and urban fight against violence.” NWI Times

“…important lessons of cultural identity, violence, death, family and friendship and emphasis on imagination and hope are key investments which matter to all ages.” NWI Times

“Bottom line: no need to be a regular theatre-goer to appreciate, so sit back and enjoy!” Buzz on Stage

“People who would like this show are people who like heartbreaking bittersweet endings, dragon-trains, and cardboard cookies. I think people will enjoy this show. It was beautiful to look at and the character arcs were beautiful and I really liked it.” Ada Grey Reviews For You

MOSAIC Accepting Submissions for Comedy Shows


The Playground Theater will be accepting SUBMISSIONS for MOSAIC. The MOSAIC program has two divisions, but still serves the same mission: to focus on artists exploring individual identity and to celebrate uniqueness. This program represents the complex new American point of view that encompasses all voices, not just one.

COMEDY: The Playground is interested in finding new comedy shows for performance at the Playground Theater. If you have an idea for an Improv, Sketch, Solo or Stand Up show that embraces the Mosaic mission, please email for a submission form. Selected submissions will receive development time with the creative director, rehearsal time and then will be presented for a six week run on Saturday nights at 7pm. Playground will be producing 5-6 new MOSAIC comedy shows in the 2016-2017 season.

THEATRE: Playground Theatricals will be accepting MOSAIC submissions In August 2016. Particular interest will be given to original works that embrace the mission of MOSAIC, which is to explore individuality and uniqueness. When submitting to Playground Theatricals, please include a ten page sample of the work, a resume, and a letter which explains why you are interested in being a part of the program and how you think your work could benefit.

MOSAIC 2015-2016: The Playground Theater is currently presenting their inaugural MOSAIC program in association with The Department of Cultural Affairs in a 7-month residency at the Chicago Cultural Center.  The Playground Theater, produced by Matt Barbera, will bring together Jo Cattell, Lorena Diaz, Isaac Gomez, Wendy Mateo and Juan Francisco Villa. The program will feature workshops and readings of work currently in development – everything on the program is open to the public and is free of charge. It is recommended reserving a place for workshops, which can be done at

The Playground launches Generosity Campaign to renovate our home

The Playground has grown significantly as an organization with the addition of our new Training Center, the Mosaic program, and an expanding slate of productions. Our theater is in serious need of renovations to keep our performers and audience in a safe and fun environment. We have some very cool incentives for your donations. And remember all donations are tax-deductible as The Playground is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit organization.

You can donate here.


The Brand-New Playground Training Center Launches in February 2016!


As The Playground Theater moves through 2016, it is excited to announce that class registration is now open on Classes begin on Saturday, February 13, 2016. The training center will offer five courses for teens and adults to explore comedy theater and gain valuable training. Classes in term one include: Stand Up Writing Workshop, Solo Sketch Comedy, and three improv levels: Improv Basics, Improv Ensemble Play, and Improv Pro. The Spring Session includes a variety of classes for multiple ages and experience levels from beginners to professionals. Each class will meet once a week for 2 ½ hours. All classes will run for 6 weeks, excluding holidays. For more information, please contact Bill Meincke at