Sandra Delgado in "Mojada" at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater
Sandra Delgado does not shy away from provocative play titles. The Chicago native, a founding member of Collaboraction—where her husband, Anthony Moseley, is the artistic director—and an ensemble member and former associate artistic director of Teatro Vista, shared the Steppenwolf stage with Jimmy Smits earlier this year in "The Mother[bleep]er with the Hat." Now, she's starring in a world premiere drama by Luis Alfaro ("Oedipus el Rey"), called "Mojada," which roughly translates to the pejorative term of "wetback."
In this modern re-imagining of the Greek myth, "Medea"—which is set in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood and focuses on immigration, family, mysticism and more—Delgado stars as a woman who crosses from Mexico into the U.S. illegally with her husband and a female friend but cannot escape her betrayal-laden past.
We called Delgado to get her take on the Pilsen neighborhood, Chicago theater, her love of provocative play titles and more.
Go: 7:30 p.m. Friday through August 11 at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave.
Tickets: $20-$50. 773-871-3000; victorygardens.org
GROWING UP WITH PILSEN
Her Pilsen connections: "My family's Colombian but we adopted a lot of Mexican culture. My parents got here in the mid-'60s and there was such a big Mexican population here in Chicago, we grew up eating Mexican food. [Laughs.] We would often go to Pilsen and Little Village once a week to have dinner on Friday or Saturday night. And then about 10 years ago, I was one of the lead artists for this program between the Goodman and the Mexican museum in Pilsen where we worked with teenagers from the neighborhood, so I spent a fair amount of time in Pilsen. ... When the artists started moving in, I started going to art parties in Pilsen. So I've known the neighborhood since I was little and have seen it change slowly."
Her favorite Pilsen spots: "I love Jumping Bean; that's probably my favorite place and the Mexican restaurant Nueva Leon is really good. And just walking down the street and buying something from a vendor like an elote—corn with the mayo and the chili, a little spice on it."
Best Pilsen memory: "This is actually very recent. There was this mariachi opera that's touring the United States right now and I took my five-and-a-half-year-old daughter to see it. I took my aunts too but my daughter and I sat next to each other and I loved sharing that with her. It was a full mariachi band with actors who are also singers and the songs were all in Spanish. She had such a fun time; there was dancing in the aisles and it was just something special for us to share—thinking about my parents taking me to Pilsen when I was little and then getting together with my daughter, too."
BORN TO PERFORM
On how performing is in her blood: "I grew up in a very musical family. My mother was a performer when she was young. It's not anything she ever did professionally, but she loves singing and her sisters do, too. And I grew up singing in a Colombian choir with them and dancing with them. From a very young age, performing was a normal part of our family life. It was what we would do together on the weekends. But I never thought it was something you could do professionally."
Her first showbiz break: "My friend Barb and I—we sang together—were seniors in high school. It was Martin Luther King Day and we took the train downtown, got off at the Washington Blue Line and went between the Blue Line and the Red Line back when there was a tunnel that connected them. And we sang all day—this was back when you didn't need a permit like you do now—and made some money. [Laughs.] And then, towards the end of the day, these guys came up to us. It was like out of a movie: 'We're record producers, here's our card, give us a call.' They were putting together a group with a guy rapper and three girl singers. Barb and I became part of this group [called C Schmoove and the First Family] and recorded some songs and we did a lot of concerts, mostly for teen clubs. Our big gig was opening up for Kriss Kross at the Riviera."
How that concert went: "There's nothing like 2,000 screaming kids wanting you to get offstage because they want to see Kriss Kross. [Laughs.] Keeping ya humble."
C Schmoove lyrics that stuck with her: "'I love you in the morning; I love you in the night. I love it when you're wrong as much as when you're right.' [Laughs.] That's all I remember—so silly!"