Illinois State alumnus and Off-Broadway actor Eric Avilés will give a performance of his celebrated solo play about his youth, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, November 20, in the Westhoff Theatre.

Part of Latinx Heritage Month at Illinois State University, the event is free and open to the public.

Seamlessly moving from the past to present, Where You From? What You Be About? tells a story of how one man and his family reconcile the influences and subsequent death of a family member due to gun and gang violence set in the historically Puerto Rican neighborhood of Humboldt Park, Chicago. A cousin’s funeral becomes the catalyst for confronting a buried truth, for facing the effects of growing up surrounded by poverty, violence, and the need for healing. This transformational coming of age journey is an interdisciplinary solo play that includes spoken word, video projections, and a live DJ.

“The Latin American and Latino Studies program is proud to welcome back to campus, Eric Avilés, who has placed ISU in the map of upcoming Latino actors,” said Director of the Latin American and Latino/a Studies Program at Illinois State Maura Toro-Morn. “I have fond memories of Eric as a student because he was a leader in our campus community. He was president of ALAS (Association of Latin American Students) and eventually formed another student organization called, Flame of Resistance. We are delighted to close what has been a fantastic calendar of events with Eric’s play.”

“As an artist and educator I felt an urgency to create a play to address the issues of poverty, racism, and the need for positive transformation for our young people,” said Avilés. “The idea that a young person can strive to be whoever they want to be seems a far fetch reality for many youths of color who grow up in impoverished homes and communities. Growing economic inequality is continually pushing more youth to find a hustle in the streets to make ends meet. Poverty perpetuates crime and violence.”

A veteran actor, Avilés has performed nationally at El Teatro Campesino, Steppenwolf, Goodman, Teatro Vista, The Magic, and INTAR. Many roles he’s portrayed examine the Latino experience in the United States. He has over 15 years teaching artist experience working with youth and adults in schools, community centers, and prisons. Avilés is a practitioner of the healing arts. He infuses meditation, yoga, and other rituals to create a brave space for ensemble work. He’s co-creator of Liberation Arts Collective’s New Moon Series, a monthly healing arts workshop provided for artists, activists, and educators in New York City.

This event is sponsored by Multi-Ethnic Cultural and Co-Curricular Programming and Advisory Committee (MECCPAC), Association of Latin American Students (ALAS), School of Theatre and Dance, Latin American and Latino/a Studies, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences, and Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures.