If there is a Xanax-free solution to road rage, it surely lies in phenomena such as Our Lady of the Underpass. Salt stain or miracle, the image has drawn thousands to the Kennedy Expressway’s Fullerton Avenue viaduct since first appearing in 2005. The local playwright Tanya Saracho is well acquainted with the specter; she spent hours at the site interviewing people for her new docudrama, Our Lady of the Underpass. The play led us to ponder the hours—days, even—we’ve lost in traffic on 90/94. In the interest of killing time during future jams, we present three underpass-inspired points to ponder. –CATEY SULLIVAN
Forget traffic. How would I cope with the worst thing imaginable?
”I talked to this one girl who was in her pajamas, just kind of walking around, crying,” Saracho says. “I could tell there was something she wanted to tell me real bad, but she just couldn’t say it. I was thinking about that girl forever and how awful it is to carry something that bad around with you and never let it go.”
Where is the line dividing the sacred from the profane?
The two collided when a man groped Saracho at the altar. “After an hour interview, he gropes me. Right in front of the candles,” she recalls. “I pushed him away and ran.”
How cynical am I?
“Originally, I was going to make a mockumentary,” Saracho says of the play. “I went to laugh at all the superstitious immigrants [Saracho herself is a Mexican citizen who has held U.S. residency status for 12 years]. But I got there—and, wow, there was this hum of prayer and petitions written on the cement: ‘Save my baby.’ ‘Bring my son home.’ It was definitely a holy place. I don’t go to church, but I will go to the underpass and light a candle.”
Previews Feb 19-22; regular run thru Mar 29. $20-$35. Teatro Vista at Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N Lincoln. teatrovista.org.
Photograph: Chicago Tribune photo by Scott Strazzante
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