Blaming Trump Visa Halt, Cuba’s Ludi Teatro Cancels Steppenwolf Show

A report by Ariel Cheung for DNA Info.

As part of the city’s month-long celebration of Latino actors and artists, Cuban theater company Ludi Teatro was set for its United States debut at Steppenwolf Theatre.

But difficulties in securing travel visas amid a crackdown from President Donald Trump’s administration have forced the troupe to cancel the Oct. 19-22 performance of “The Mirror.”

The show was part of the first Chicago International Latino Theater Festival, which seeks to amplify Latino artists and connect local theaters with international players from Latin America and the Caribbean. The “Destinos” festival, which featured a dozen productions around Chicago, was organized by the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance, or CLATA.

“Because CLATA strives to engage in a global artistic exchange to break down barriers that separate our cultures and communities, it is with great regret we must cancel the performances by Ludi Teatro,” said Myrna Salazar, CLATA co-founder and executive director.

Eight cast members, the playwright, director and choreographer were set to travel to Chicago for five performances of “The Mirror” next week. The musical, based off “El Peine y el Espejo” by queer Cuban playwright Abelardo Estorino, follows the character Rosa as she tries to win back the love of Cristóbal at any length.

Instead, Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre will go dark from Oct. 19-22. Ticket holders will be refunded.

At the end of September, the United States halted its visa services in Cuba after mysterious ailments left many American diplomats at the embassy in Havana stricken with headaches, dizziness and hearing loss earlier this summer.

Visa processing has been suspended and the United States recalled its nonessential personnel as a result, stranding thousands of Cubans looking for immigrant, tourist or student visas. The U.S. State Department also warned against traveling to Cuba following the breakout.

“These changes were unexpected and have made it impossible for us to ensure entry into the country for Ludi Teatro,” Salazar said.

The Chicago Latino Theater Alliance formed in 2016 through three of the city’s most prominent Latino cultural organizations: International Latino Cultural Center, the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen and the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance.

Remaining shows for the “Destinos” festival will continue as planned, including shows at Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare and Storyfront Theater. Find the full schedule online.

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