Monday, June 4, 2018


Bordertown Now by Culture Clash: Ric Salinas and Herbert Sigüenza with new material by Richard Montoya.  Directed by Diane Rodriguez "Now" comes to the Pasadena Playhouse main stage from the distant past presenting Culture Clash's cutting take on Los Angeles and Chicano culture.   Updated from their 1998 observations, "Now" examines how our formerly United States of America is changing thanks to the current administration: creating an atmosphere of derision, division and fear.

The Sonoran Desert: American side.. a lone vigilante shouts obscenities at a funky pair of Chicano looking guys right next to the looming ugliness of the border wall.  Insisting that they are Americans, which makes no nevermind to the vigilante with the AR15, it takes a while to de-escalate the situation, convincing the man with the gun to stand down.  All the while our hearty Culture Clash Chronicler #1 (Richard Montoya) and CCC #2 (Herbert Sigüenza ) roll camera and sound to chronicle, if you will, the prejudice and patriotism of possibly Ricardo Salina (who may be CCC#3, but these guys are such protean performers that it's hard to tell just who is who.) Revisions are welcome. As the boys start to leave, the vigilante insists on having his say!

Hard language and capitulation by #s 1 and 2, bring the vigilante to a discussion where the challenges of safety for our daughters becomes a mutual point of discussion.  Yee Eun Nam's excellent projections on Efran Delgadillo, Jr.'s scenic design, depicting DACA / Dreamers and the facial tattoos of the dreaded MS13 (whose rise to power becomes a point of information that most of us really don't know much about) depict the hard struggles (are there ever easy struggles?) of south of the border human beings striving to find safety and new lives north of the Border Wall. 
Richard Montoya, Herbert Sigüenza. Bottom: Ricardo Salinas
Told in episodes, the 'boys' have traveled to Mexico and north of the border to chronicle human beings who often tend to blur into a mass of unhappy brown. Most impressive is the gorgeous Sabina Zuniga Varela's (CCC #4) venture into the 'man cave' of recently pardoned former sheriff Joe Arpaio.  Moving into his memorabilia strewn 'cave,' we meet the articulate former lawman who makes no bones about his bigotry. His eloquent ramble charms like a cobra weaving hypnotically ready to strike its unsuspecting prey. Make up is so well done and the monologue so well presented that I don't know which of 'the boys' delivered his story. 

The addition of Ms Varela to the cast is brilliant, especially with her captivating turn as a detained young mother who has been separated from  her son. 

Director Diane Rodrieguez's hand is subtle. Her impressive credits going back to the days of El Teatro Campasino, Luis Valdez's strong polemic work that brought the plight of farm workers to the fore, showing her foundation in political theatre.  

One line at the top of Bordertown Now
"You're making a movie?"  
"No.. it's a play.." 
"Oh.. so no one will see it!?" drew knowing laughter from the opening night audience.  Timely references point up that it is in face to face: personal interaction...  where an opportunity to understand the 'sides' of any issue...  are vital.  To that end, check the website for the Playhouse to find a performance where post show discussions may help to further enlighten.  How many of 'them' may attend this excellent production is unknown. Culture Clash's preaching to the choir enforces the ideas of those who believe that treating each other as human beings is a prime directive is obvious. However, if any of those who support the current administration would like to take a step into the bright humor of the sadness of our present situation, this may be a wonderful way to open a door... at least a crack... to some the beginning of some understanding.

Bordertown Now 
by Culture Clash: Ricardo Salinas and Herbert Sigüenza with new material by Richard Montoya

The Pasadena Playhouse
39 S. El Molino Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91101
Through June 24, 2018
Tickets and information:
626 356 7529

No comments:

Post a Comment