Teatro del Pueblo Portrays Gay Youth Homelessness on Penumbra Stage

Photo by Silvia Pontaza.

Photo by Silvia Pontaza.

The region’s premiere theater group for Latina/o issues, Teatro del Pueblo, is presenting a new play about homeless gay youth at the Penumbra Theatre. Artistic Director Al Justiniano first heard Swimming While Drowning by Emilio Rodriguez read in Chicago at the Carnaval Conference last year. He says “my ears perked up as soon as I started to hear the poetic and pungent dialogue that so transported me to a world I knew very little about: a youth shelter. I was immediately enamored by the way Emilio intertwined poetry and an honest, but biting dialogue that conveys the challenges endured by gay youth of color, the struggle to find their way while facing homophobia, racism, and abandonment. I was floored.”

The story is based on Rodriguez’s experience with Latino youth as a Detroit schoolteacher. One of the youth characters has poetic dreams, while the other has scars and bruises from the mean streets he has been exiled to. How can they find a life of security and fulfillment? Swimming While Drowning opens that inquiry.

Swimming While Drowning
Through May 22
Penumbra Theatre, 270 N. Kent St., St. Paul

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