Waukegan native Jocelyn Zamudio plays a Mexican-American teenager who was brought to this country as a child and hopes to become a citizen through the DREAM Act in Martyna Majok’s time-built “City of Refuge” at the Steppenwolf Theater from September 14 to November 14. 18.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. most Tuesdays-Fridays; 3 PM and 7:30 PM most Saturdays; and 3 p.m. on most Sundays until October 21; followed by Saturday, October 28-November at 15.00 and 19.30. 18.
“It’s an incredible story. There are only three characters on stage for “Sanctuary City,” Zamudio said.
His character is known simply as G.
“He always has an answer for everything, and if he doesn’t, he will immediately give an answer,” said Zamudio. “I think that’s what keeps him going no matter what happens in his life. She’s an incredibly smart girl, and unfortunately, what happens at home is keeping her out of the way.” Her perseverance helps her cope with such difficulties.
The game begins when G is 17 and ends in his final year of college.
The actor said that the show was, in a way, a combination of two games. “The second half is very different from the first,” he mocked.
When choosing the role of G, director Steph Paul said: “I was looking for an actor who had access to fireworks and electricity. I think G is a very vibrant, non-fading person who lives with high definition colours. I needed someone who could have that courage.
Paul is sure he found that actor.
“Jocelyn is all of the above,” the director said. “He is such a charming actor and a lovely person to be in the same room with.”
A first-generation Mexican American, Zamudio first became active in theater when he was about eight years old.
“I was part of a group that met at an old church in North Chicago,” he explained. Besides doing theatre, it was a place where children could learn Mexican folk dances.
“We would have performances all over Lake County,” Zamudio recalled. “We had a group of adults and a lot of young children teaching us in our productions. I remember playing Little Red Riding Hood in a production. My love for theater and what got my feet wet was a big part of my childhood.”
Zamudio attended Lyon Magnet School, Thomas Jefferson Middle School, and Waukegan High School’s Washington Campus, where he also attended theater. In 2018, she received a theater degree with a minor in law and society at the University of Illinois Chicago campus.
“I signed a contract with an agency through my high-end showcase,” Zamudio said. “After signing a contract with the agency, I stepped into the professional world of theatre, television and cinema. I’ve booked several television roles.
Just before theaters closed due to COVID-19, Zamudio appeared as a backup actress in “I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Girl” on Steppe Wolf. It was able to go on once but production had to shut down due to the pandemic.
He performed on the television show “Chicago PD” and also works as a stuntman behind the scenes of this show. “I do their lines; “I’m blocking them for camera and lighting purposes,” said Zamudio. He was supposed to return to work in July, but production was halted due to the writers’ ongoing strike.
Meanwhile, Zamudio is immersed in the world of the “City of Refuge”.
“Even though it’s about characters not born in this country, and they’re dealing with a political issue at its core, these are just people trying to make decisions. I think it’s timeless.”
‘City of Refuge’
When: September 14-November. 18
Where: The Steppenwolf’s Community Theater in Honor of Helen Zell, 1646 N. Halsted St., Chicago
Information: 312-335-1650; steppenwolf.org
Myrna Petlicki is a freelance correspondent for Pioneer Press.