Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: Clybourne Park. On-Line Floricanto

Review: Clybourne Park at the Mark Taper Forum
Thru Feb26, 2012

Michael Sedano

Change is inevitable, as is comparison between status quo ante and status quo. In Los Angeles’ premiere theatre, the Mark Taper Forum, Gordon Davidson retired and Michael Ritchie moved in from the hinterlands.

Although Davidson sponsored some stinkers, he brought some memorable works from out of town—Siobhan McKenna’s Irish women (Yeats, Joyce, Shaw) paired with Jack McGowran doing Beckett; Zoot Suit; Burn This; For Colored Girls.

Ritchie’s been more miss than hit and some seaons his programming has been hit by last-minute cancellations and replacements. In Ritchie’s best programming decision, he’s made Culture Clash casi a regular on the main stage whereas Gordy kept a gem like “Black Butterfly, Jaguar Girl, Piñata Woman & Other Super Hero Girls, Like Me” off the main season stage.

The most serious rap on Ritchie is his abandonment of Davidson’s commitment to local writing and acting talent. Ritchie prefers rolling the dice on imports, like the headed for Broadway satire, Clybourne Park, at the Taper now through February 26, 2012. In this case, it’s a programming gem.

Unfortunately, Center Theatre Group markets Bruce Norris’ 2011 Pulitzer Prize drama as a companion piece to Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. While Norris’ piece gains depth from the association, not knowing the linkage is irrelevant to the drama unfolding on stage.

Not knowing the allusions to Hansberry’s play doesn’t diminish enjoying what happens on stage. In two acts, Clybourne Park looks at what happens before and after Raisin in the Sun. Act one, the spectre of white flight racism on the eve of negroes moving into a white neighborhood. Act two, fifty years after, a white couple chooses to move into the house, a transitioning ghetto neighborhood.

In act one, racism feeds a self-fulfilling prophecy. With the mindlessness of white flight, property values decline and a white neighborhood becomes affordable to people of color.

During one character’s screed on spiraling property values and abandoned neighborhoods, a sotto voce from a row behind me affirms, “that’s the way it happened.” The remark mirrors perfectly the putatively obsolescent emotional space the play evokes in the moment. They are still with us.

In act two, race and class clash in a confrontation over the same physical space, the Clybourne Park property. Set in the present day, racial bifurcation of the first act has given way to vastly different emotional spaces. Upper middle-class black professionals from the all-black, decayed neighborhood negotiate as equals with a white couple who want to mansionize the place.

Norris enjoys tossing monkey wrenches into the agon then playing them to the hilt. Is the issue truly structural incompatibility with the “feel” of the place, or does the world-traveling black woman resent the symbolism of a white-owned property looming above the old neighborhood, a signal of a self-fulfilling prophecy where low proptery values lure whites waving dollars at the residents.

There’s a ton of fun from having the actors play disparate roles. In act one, the black characters are the help and keep their place, the whites are odd. In act two, they travel in the same circles with the rich buyers. The disaffected home seller from act one becomes the blue collar construction clown. The clueless housewife becomes the cynical attorney. Juggling the actors against the roles has the audience in my area tittering with delight with the best kind of cognitive dissonance.

Director Pam MacKinnon injects kinetic humor in the form of oddly exaggerated gestures in act one. One character stands center stage spouting an obnoxiously euphemistic rant. His choppy arm waving becomes a hilarious nonverbal reductio ad absurdum.

There’s a keen moment of insight as act one closes. The housewife, up to now verging on a Lucy Ricardo type, expresses a moment’s bitterness. She’s about to move to the suburbs where her husband’s commute to the office will be 7 minutes. She sighs. What about me, what will I do? Norris picks up the thread with the second act where the actor embodies a woman attorney. She talks about going to law school, studying and working long hours. Unlike that housewife, she has done. Still, she has found no more satisfaction than that housewife bleakly facing empty solitude while husband enjoys an active career.

The set needs work, though maybe in those huge New York houses, the frantic pounding and heavy thuds reaching entr’acte auditorium-sitters, won’t matter. In the intimate confines of the Taper, I hear several remarks on what they must be doing? Not much. Act Two starts in the same split-level space. The furniture and props carried off, replaced by garbage and spray cans. The walls are covered with ghetto graffiti.

Clybourne Park heads to Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theatre in April. If you’re in the vicinity of Bunker Hill until the end of February, you can catch Clybourne Park’s last out-of-town tryout before it hits the Big White Way. Per the publicity, it’ll be the same cast, same director, probably same set.


On-Line Floricanto

Alma Luz Villanueva, Odilia Galván Rodríguez, Pueblo American Government,  Javier Pacheco, Betty Sánchez

"I Want" by Alma Luz Villanueva
"Poem 6 ~ Being A Border" by Odilia Galván Rodríguez
"We Are Poem" by Pueblo American Government
“2012: Los Cambios Inevitables / 2012: The Inevitable Changes” by Javier Pacheco
"Genocidio Cultural" by Betty Sánchez

by Alma Luz Villanueva 

"I want to do to you
what spring does to
the cherry trees."  Pablo Neruda

I want to do
to the book banners
in Arizona what spring
does to the cherry

trees, yes, I really
want to want to want
to- they've lost their 
Eros, the burst of

ripe ripe ripe cherries
filling their mouths with
sexy joy, they've lost
that wild impulse to

climb cherry trees, dizzy
with sex sex sexy
white snow sunlit
sun-fed spring-fed

carressing eyelids, cheeks,
open mouth, lips, delicate
scent, nose, filling lungs,
filling heart and brain-

they might remember what
the God of Spring does to
the Goddess Cherry Tree,
feel lost quivers, trembles,

rushes of desire, pick up
our alive and sexy poets,
writers, read taboo
words of beauty, passion,

truth of sunlight, spring,
cherry blossoms, ancient
corn and weep weep weep
weep, be born in

spring with shame and
joy, return our books
to our children's hands.
Or lose their spring.

*The banning of Latina/o and Native American
books in Arizona, which can not ever be banned
from the heart, memory.

Alma Luz Villanueva
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
January 2012... SPRING is here, 
full bloom, Sixth Sun.

Poem 6 ~ Being A Border

I've been here all of my life

on the edge of this or that

a bridge between my people

crossing people

come to me 

to enter more worlds 

than I can even fathom

I am is a border 

something of a fence sitter 

except in my case I am not neutral

I take both sides, I am from and for

both sides, yes

I live the in-betwixt and in-between

I am the center and the balance

I see good and bad

at every turn

at every crossroads

and every crossing is a ritual 

what do you offer to enter?

seven shiny dimes to the mother 

of all mothers, of the salty waters

or nine pennies to the wind whisperer

the keeper of the last door we enter...

I've been here all of my life and 

all I want to do is cross that line

myself, want to pass the torch

having been now totally scorched

by this playing at blind justice

is there really such a thing?

I think not.

someone always has to win

and someone loses

even if I know the secret

that losing you win

still, that's because I'm

a different kind of thinker

having the luxury or curse

of being from the middle

living on that fine line 

between this or that

here or there

it's a fact 

being a border is no fun

you have to let some in

and keep some out

and then all those

convoluted routes

people take to get there --

even when they know in their heart

it's not for them, and

they should've stayed put

they figure that out later

sometimes when it's too damn late

but wait, why'd I let them in

if it wasn't for them?

oh yes, because it was a lesson...

lofty this job of mediator 

border deity 

job seems too big

too pretentious

somehow playing god 

when all I am is an idea

I am a border
a door
a hoarder of hopes
of injustices
tucked inside promises
of new lives, 
lives really not new or better
simply different
I am a border
a line
a big lie.

©Odilia Galván Rodríguez, 2011

We Are Poem
By Pueblo American Government

Formally Known as Social Justice Education Program

We are overlooked and disappointed
We wonder if things can change for the better
We hear voices being spoken but going unheard
We see the hopelessness in people’s eyes
We want our opinion to matter
We pretend everything is okay when it is not
We are overlooked and disappointed
We feel bemused and unheard
We touch the worried souls of our culture
We worry that it will be the end
We cry when our beliefs are judged
We understand life is full of disappointment and we shouldn’t give up
We are overlooked and disappointed
We say the truth others try to avoid
We dream that one day equality will be used in our vocabulary
We try to persuade those who discriminate
We hope our voice can change perspectives
We need support from our people
We are overlooked and disappointed

2012: Los Cambios Inevitables
Por Javier B. Pacheco

El tiempo, las estaciones, y los ciclos:
estoy bañado y recargado
en las nuevas energías cósmicas
llevándome a un nivel más alto de vibración;
costura de energías vivas
elemento de éter
energía espiritual
el tiempo y la conciencia se aceleran.

En cada luna llena lo sientes,
esa fuerza creciente del Sol.
En cada estación se manifiesta
ésta intensidad solar.
¿Será que por fin me he dado cuenta?
En verdad, ¿he medido los días?
¿Será que ya soy capáz de apreciar toda la vida?

Ya es tiempo de conocer a mis vecinos
es tiempo de salir del caparazón
así como nos sincronizamos
formando una solidaridad espiritual
de nuestras vibraciones mutuas
Tú ya no eres mi invención
sinó una parte de mí, y yo de tí:
tú llenas mi copa
como yo lleno la tuya

ante los escombros de un mundo viejo
estamos en la aurora
de crear un nuevo comienzo:
estamos en el momento sagrado
en la resonancia del corazón/mente
conocimiento multidimensional

mientras que se va desminuiéndo
la fundación energética del
separatísmo, avarícia, dominación, control
desequilibrio, fuerza y conflicto,
disolviendo en su propio abismo
se nos atraviesa la fuente de la juventud
mientras giramos nuevas tapicerías
y el polvo del pasado
se desvanece.

Las musas ancestrales
resuenan adentro
y nos hemos reconectado
con las otras dimensiones
hemos pasado a través de los umbrales
avanzando juntos
entonados a frequencias más finas
en una convergencia de energías
de seres reactivados
para traer la curación al Planeta,
jalados con el flujo
atados a todos los cíclos
aprendiendo de la geometría sagrada
los diseños inteligentes
generados por el calor de la luz,
de una química más alta de la vida,
de aprender el nuevo baile celestial.

2012: The Inevitable Changes
By Javier B. Pacheco

Time, seasons, and the cycles:
I’m bathed and recharged
in the new cosmic energies
leading me to a higher level of vibration;
weaving, living energies
ether element
spiritual energy
time and consciousness accelerate.

In every full moon you feel it,
that growing force of the Sun.
In every season this solar intensity
is manifest.
Is it that I’ve finally started to notice?
Have I truly measured the days?
Is it that now I’m capable of appreciating all life?

Its time to know my neighbors
its time to come out of one’s shell
as we synchronize
forming a spiritual solidarity
from our mutual vibrations
You are no longer my invention
but a part of me, and I a part of you:
you fill my cup
as I fill yours

faced with the debris of an old world
we’re in the dawn
of creating a new beginning:
we’re in the holy moment
in the resonance of the heart/mind
multidimensional awareness

while the energetic foundation
diminishes for
separatism, greed, domination, control,
imbalance, force, and conflict,
dissolving into its own abyss
we stumble upon the fountain of youth
while spinning new tapestries
and the dust of the past
is swiftly washed away.

Ancestral muses
resonate within
and we’ve reconnected
with the other dimensions
we’ve gone through the doorways
advancing together
tuned to higher frequencies
in a convergence of energies
of reactivated beings
bringing healing to the Planet,
going with the flow
tied into all the cycles
learning from the sacred geometry
the intelligent designs
generated from the warmth of the light,
from a higher chemistry of life,
from learning the new celestial dance.

por Betty Sánchez

HB 2281
Una ley que fomenta
el genocidio cultural
que reprime
la libertad de expresión
y viola los derechos
humanos fundamentales.

Señora Jan Brewer,
su soberbia no sorprende
su ignorancia es lastimera
su puesto le concede autoridad
de redactar proyectos de ley
arbitrarios e inmorales
pero jamás le otorgará el poder
de borrar nuestra historia
que no se limita a la página escrita
y la tradición oral
la llevamos impresa
en nuestra sangre indígena
y en nuestra piel de bronce
ésta no es una afrenta personal
es una guerra abierta
contra la dignidad
de todos los pueblos
y le aseguro que la victoria
no le pertenece.

Señor John Huppenthal,
quince millones de dólares
fue el precio de su integridad
erradicar las palabras
raza, solidaridad étnica
y opresión del currículo educativo
es una medida inútil
pues los conceptos mismos
son nuestro pan de cada día
remover libros de los estantes
y hasta de las manos de los estudiantes
constituyen un abuso de autoridad
elaborar una lista de textos prohibidos
desmantelar el programa MAS
y castigar con lavar inodoros
a los que expresan inconformidad
no eliminarán la esencia de un pueblo
que se enorgullece
de su identidad
y seguirá proclamando
en su hogar
en las aulas del
Distrito Unificado Escolar
de Tucson
en las calles de Arizona
y en el mundo entero
su lengua y patrimonio cultural.

© Betty Sánchez
22 de enero del 2012

"I Want" by Alma Luz Villanueva
"Poem 6 ~ Being A Border" by Odilia Galván Rodríguez
"We Are Poem" by Pueblo American Government
“2012: Los Cambios Inevitables / 2012: The Inevitable Changes” by Javier Pacheco
"Genocidio Cultural" by Betty Sánchez

Alma Luz Villanueva was raised in the Mission District, San Francisco, by her Yaqui grandmother, Jesus Villanueva- she was a curandera/healer from Sonora, Mexico. Without Jesus no poetry, no stories, no memory...

Author of eight books of poetry, most recently, 'Soft Chaos' (2009). A few poetry anthologies: 'The Best American Poetry, 1996,' 'Unsettling America,' 'A Century of Women's Poetry,' 'Prayers For A Thousand Years, Inspiration from Leaders & Visionaries Around The World.' Three novels: 'The Ultraviolet Sky,' 'Naked Ladies,' 'Luna's California Poppies,' and the short story collection, 'Weeping Woman, La Llorona and Other Stories.' Some fiction anthologies: '500 Great Books by Women, From The Thirteenth Century,' 'Caliente, The Best Erotic Writing From Latin America,' 'Coming of Age in The 21st Century,' 'Sudden Fiction Latino.' The poetry and fiction has been published in textbooks from grammar to university, and is used in the US and abroad as textbooks. Has taught in the MFA in creative writing program at Antioch University, Los Angeles, for the past thirteen years. And is the mother of four, wonderful, grown human beings.

Alma Luz Villanueva now lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for the past seven years, traveling the ancient trade routes to return to teach, and visit family and friends, QUE VIVA!! And taking trips throughout Mexico, working on a novel in progress, always the poetry, memory.

Odilia Galván Rodríguez, is a poet/activist and healer.  She has been involved in social justice organizing and helping people find their creative and spiritual voice for over two decades.  Odilia teaches creative writing workshops nationally, and is a moderator and one of the founding members of Poets Responding to SB 1070.  She also co-hosts "Poetry Express" a weekly open mike with featured poets in Berkeley, CA.

Pueblo American Government, formerly Social Justice Education Program bio updated to include group portrait and complete list of authors. Thank you, poets, for sending your image and author names. 
Pueblo American Government, formerly Social Justice Education Program
Members:  Jasmine Bravo, Itzel Baca,Stephanie Cardenas, Ariana Echeverria, Diana Estrada, Arianna Eubank, Ramon Flores, Sofia Gallegos, Dalia Garia, Savannah Lubinsky, Jesus Martinez-Rodriguies, Guadalupe Moreno, Marcos Moreno, Cynthia Ohlmaier, Gabriela Othon, Adrianna Peru, Angel Ramirez,  Chris Rios Hernandez, Karen Rodriguez, Monica Velderrain, Daicy Villalva

Pueblo American Government is comprised of students from Pueblo Magnet High School in the Tucson Unified School District in Tucson, Arizona. The Raza Studies program was recently dismantled in the district following the ruling of the state that found the program to be in violation of HB 2281, which prohibits the promotion of ethnic solidarity in public classrooms. Since the decision, hundreds of middle school and high school students have protested the loss of these classes in walk-outs, sit-ins, presentations and poetry. This poem was also published in the Tucson Citizen website. http://tucsoncitizen.com/three-sonorans/2012/01/20/we-are-poem-from-pueblo-high-mas-students/

Javier B. Pacheco is a S.F. Bay Area performance poet, pianist, composer, arranger, and ethnomusicologist.  He performs Salsa with his group Orquesta Pacheco, and Jazz with the Pacheco Trio.

Betty Sanchez. Madre orgullosa de siete hijos y cinco hermosos nietos. En la actualidad resido en el condado de Sutter en el cual trabajo como Supervisora de Educación para el programa Regional y Migrante de Head Start.

Soy miembro activo del grupo literario, Escritores del Nuevo Sol desde  Marzo del 2004.  Contribuí en la antología poética Voces del Nuevo Sol y participe en el Festival Flor y Canto. Ser finalista en el primer concurso de poesía en español organizado por el Colectivo Verso Activo, me dio la oportunidad de dar a conocer más ampliamente mi pasión por la poesía y por extensión ser invitada a colaborar en eventos como Noche de Voces Xicanas, Honrando a Facundo Cabral, y Poesía Revuelta. Es un privilegio contribuir en la página Poetas Respondiendo al SB 1070 y por supuesto en La Bloga.

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