Headquartered in San Cristobal de las Casas in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, this ensemble (whose name means “monkey business”) began ten years ago as an outreach program of Sna Jtz’ibajom (House of the Writer), an agency dedicated to reclaiming the Mayan heritage suppressed since the coming of the Spanish Catholic conquerors. Working under the guidance of American stage director Ralph Lee, an Open Theatre veteran and artistic director of New York’s acclaimed Mettawee River Company, Lo’il Maxil has groomed a solid ensemble of writers and performers whose plays, performed in Spanish and the Mayan language Tztotzil, reflect ancient myth and folklore and, increasingly, the dichotomous lives of industrialized Mexico’s impoverished rural population; plays like Las antorchas para amanecer (“Torches for Awakening”), a satire of Spanish-centric learning, and Todos para todos (“All for All”), about the struggle for land rights, dramatize the issues of educational oppression and economic injustice that also lay at the heart of Chiapas’ current guerrilla war. The company’s tours have taken it from tiny jungle villages to festivals, universities, and children’s centers throughout North America. Its Chicago debut this weekend opens this year’s edition of Del Corazon, a six-week festival of Mexican theater, music, film, and literature. Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, 1852 W. 19th, 738-1503. April 21 and 22: Friday-Saturday, 7 PM. $30 for Friday’s performance of Las antorchas para amanecer (includes opening reception); $15 for Saturday’s performance of Todos para todos.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo.