Quixote New Theatre from Chicago to San Miguel

By Victoria Roberts

“Quixote: on the Conquest of Self” kicks off the 2022 theatre season at Centro Cultural El Sindicato. If you are not familiar with this Spanish-speaking venue, you are missing some of the best theatres in Mexico. 

Penned by local author Monica Hoth, winner of of the INBA (Bellas Artes)/Conaculta’s national prize for literature, among too many others to mention here, and Claudio Valdés Kuri, who also directs, this Quijote will blow your mind. If you are familiar with the novel, this theatrical exploration will take you where you have not been in your own reading. And if all you really know about Don Quixote is that he targeted windmills, you’re in for a treat. Be warned, courage may be the side effect of seeing this show.

This original, funny, ninety-minute monologue, ran at the Chicago Writer’s Theatre for 100 performances, and starred majestic Cuban-American actor Henry Godinez, also Resident Artistic Associate at the Goodman Theatre. It is no surprise that this Mexican work based on the epic novel was chosen for an American premiere, as Chris Jones writes in the Chicago Tribune:

“Is Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quijote” the most important novel ever written? Probably. Dostoevsky and Harold Bloom thought so. No “Don Quijote,” no Dickens. Maybe no Netflix, given all that Cervantes did for the arc of dramatic characters, as we have come to know and love them.”

El Sindicato Cultural Centre is at the vanguard of contemporary Mexican theatre. Its mission is to bring the best theatre for young audiences and teens to San Miguel. But good theatre usually stretches from the young to the old. 

Last year the Sindicato premiered “Of Grass hoppers and Cicadas,” a beautiful insect saga from Opera Portátil, a young Mexican opera company; showed “Hamlet in Chains,” Hamlet set in a Lucha Libre ring from 5V Theatre in Aguascalientes. Lucha heros include “Demencia” (Ophelia), and “Víbora Letal” (Claudius); and my personal favorite, “Señoras,” from Teatro Polivalente, a company from San Luis Potosí, in which the author interviews her mother and her mother’s friends on stage with the notion of is it too late to dream?”. 

These are just three of the Sindicato’s magnificent offerings. Under an initiative by the Secretaría de Cultura Federal, the federal body in charge of culture, an effort has been made to promote the best Mexican theatre in independent spaces throughout Mexico, post COVID-19. The Sindicato has been recognized and supported by the agency. As a result, the Sindicato is now equipped to present live performance with simultaneous broadcasts online.

But back to Quixote. This graceful work, charms and challenges. Its respect for the literature teamed with a rollicking sense of humor, and a great sense of wonder, make for a unique time in the theatre. So gird your loins, brush up your Spanish if need be, and give it a try. 

Victoria Roberts is. Cartoonist for TheNew Yorker magazine


“Quijote, Vencedor de sí Mismo”

Sat, Jan 15, 6pm

El Síndicato

Recreo 4, Centro

General 150 pesos

Students 50 pesos