Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Culture Clash’s Zorro in Hell

Review: Culture Clash’s Zorro in Hell

Michael Sedano
News & Notes & Announcement

Culture Clash's
Created, Written and Performed
by Culture Clash
Directed by Tony Taccone
A co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre

Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre
La Jolla Playhouse

It was an asco moment that built in awful inevitability with Herbert Siguenza and Sharon Lockwood approaching stage right. . .

The Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre stage begins at floor level, three feet from my seat in the middle of the first row. It is not an altogether exquisite way to enjoy the wild comedy of Culture Clash, but there I was, in the middle of the action. So in the middle that, just before Richard Montoya leaps into the house to climb up to the box seats, his frenzied character ad libs “the audience is using the stage as a footrest!” True enough. And during several sword fights I worried that an errant foil would swipe its “Z” on my forehead!

Saturday evening, I sat front and center in the La Jolla Playhouse entertained by Culture Clash’s Zorro in Hell, hoping not to catch any of the spit that sparkled from the spotlighted actors’ lips. I was lucky until the action stopped in front of me. The line called for a sound effect, “ghaaaa” accompanied by bright drops arcing in the spotlight in a trajectory destined for my bare arm.

Have I traveled from Los Angeles to sunny San Diego to be spit on? Evidently. With relish, mas o menos. More mas than menos. I chocked up the casual reference to Clasher performing oral sex on Kyle (the Bear) to humor. More menos did I enjoy the scene where Kyle (the Bear) mounts Thrasher in an extended nightmare sequence.

Such moments of menos aside (chacun a son gout que no?), Culture Clash’s Zorro in hell brings extended hilarity to an agitprop dreamatization of early California history and Zorro.

Historian Crasher has a bad case of writer’s block. He’s traveled to a rustic inn in whose historic location he hopes to finish his book on the Zorro myth. Instead, he meets the 200 year old woman-- who’s bedded every notable character from Neiztsche to Joaquin Murrieta-- and her staff, Don Ringo, the Original Chicano.

The innkeeper and her minion invade the writer’s dreams with best of intentions. Theirs has been the inspiration for the world’s greatest storytellers. Leo. Eugene. Tennessee. Ding! with their help, Crasher can pen the definitive Zorro story and with it illuminate the history of chicanas chicanos in California. But contemporary culture erects a challenging barrier. Don Ringo, the Original Chicano at one point asks the hapless writer, “Cuantos años tienes mi’jo?” and Crasher looks at his watch to offer, “ten o’clock.”

Culture is a growing, forgiving thing, and something of a sham, the story reminds us. The Zorro story, Crasher argues with his ghosts, was written by a white guy, and the hero’s Spanish, not Mexican. Logic and romance aside, the Chicano writer has to struggle with the material he’s got. Where else do the nightmares come from? When the sleeping Mexican comes alive, the serape rises, the sombrero turns and there stands the imposing voice of indigenous California handing a sombrero of invisibility like a f*cking Harry Potter. Then again, that might have been a different scene. The exact sequence truly doesn’t matter, the action is nonstop for both acts, and completely engaging. the fifteen minute intermission is welcome respite to catch one's breath.

Sadly, words lack the kinetic energy that pulsates off the stage wherever Culture Clash performs. Each time Siguenza’s character’s name comes up he strikes a proudly statuesque posture to proclaim, “the Original Chicano”, then resumes the business of the scene. The name dropping game is hilarious, a musical motif sounding from the heavens each time a notable’s name comes out. Joaquin Murrieta. Ding! Neiztsche. Ding! Ding! Ding! all evening.

I don’t remember if Roger Hedgecock got dinged. Hedgecock will be anonymous to all but locals. Culture Clash regionalizes its performance with a helping of insider referents like the local ex-con GOP pol and radio host. The performance bills itself a “world premiere” but it will play differently in your city, if it ever gets to you.

Happily, the ensemble will re-run the action until October 29. And you can take home a copy of the free program with the cut-out of your own Zorro mask on pagel… on page… there was a hilarious moment when Montoya had seized a program, ad libbing frantic banter as he riffled for the mask cut-out on page…

News & Notes & La Bloga Announcement

East LA Rep presents the workshop production of

¡Quinceañera! The Musical

Book & Lyrics
Jesus A. Reyes & Roxanna E. Sanchez

Music by Julie Kenol
Additional Music & Lyrics
Juan E. Carrillo & Scott Sener

Jesus A. Reyes

Roxana Aguilar, Jean Altadel, Miriam Alvarez , Alejandro Cardenas, Mia Castro,
Lynn Haro, Tina D’Marco, Sheila Korsi, Ryan Miller, Matt Phillips,
Monica Sanchez, Raquel Sanchez, Tom Sandoval, Felix Sotelo, and Hector C. Torres.

The guest arrive to the quinceañera celebration expecting tamales and cake when suddenly the father can’t be found, the caterers don’t arrive, and the city inspector tries to shut it down. This is not a play, this is not the movie, and this isn’t your typical musical, this is an event where anything can happen and probably will. East LA Rep presents the first homegrown musical from East Los Angeles in a long time – maybe ever!

Oct. 20 – Nov. 19, 2006
Friday & Saturday @ 8pm
Sunday @ 3pm
Admission: $8-$20 Sliding Scale

El Gallo Plaza Theater
4545 E. Cesar Chavez Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90022
info/rsvp: (323) 788-3880


Pomona, CA. (September 28, 2006) – The Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festival (LA-LBFF) takes will take place on October 14 and 15, 2006 at the Fairplex in Pomona, CA. Celebrating it’s 10th anniversary, LA-LBFF continues the tradition of bringing together authors, booksellers, cultural entertainment and other vendors to create an eclectic family atmosphere of fun and appreciation of reading books. The Festival is open to the public from 10:00am to 6:00pm on Saturday and from 10:00am to 5:00pm on Sunday.
. . . .
Among the authors scheduled to appear are: Tommy Chong, Ruben Navarrette Jr., Yasmin Davidds, Mabel Katz, Reyna Grande, Al Martinez, Lara Rios, Art Rodriguez, Maria Ercilla , Maria Enriquez, Jorge Argueta and Sam Quinones,
. . . .
The Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festival is sponsored by Amtrak, CVS Pharmacy, PFF, Continental Airlines, Pizza Hut, the California Teachers Association, Pampered Chef, Pacific Oaks College, LATV, Impacto USA, Para Todos, Los Kitos, Ethos Fuel Reformulator, the San Fernando Valley Sun, Jerzees, La Banda Elastica, Hispanic Lifestyle Magazine, Warehouse Shoe Sales and Velázquez Press.

Log on to www.lbff.us, and click on “Los Angeles” on the left, for more information and an up-to-date schedule of events and exciting news about authors and performers added to the program.

The first, maybe annual, La Bloga Día de los Muertos Amoxcalli-Descansos Contest. Here's your chance to get exposure for your great piece relating to el Día de los Muertos. Through Oct. 24th we will accept prose, poetry, essay, in English or Spanish or Spanglish--just about anything concerning this indigenous/modern tradition. Fantasy, children's stories, young adult, horror, serious, or not so--anything you want to share on La Bloga. Shorter pieces are preferred (less than 500 words), since we are the editorial staff and will base decisions on quality and how little work is required of us. We will feature one prize winner each day of the week of Day of the Dead. For more details, see the September 28 issue of La Bloga. Send to mailto:labloga@readraza.com

Look for La Bloga's Events page upcoming. We'll calendar and catalog an assemblage of Dia de los Muertos events from Long Island Cemetery to the Endless Sea.

And so it goes, another Tuesday. I'm heading downrange until next week.


1 comment:

OSCAR said...

Really, and I thought the Bear rape scene was hilarious. If you think about it the bear could be an analogy for the land and the land taking power back from those who abuse it.

But then again I don't like to think about things like that too much.