The Latino comedy troupe Culture Clash continues celebrating its 15th anniversary with a brand new show, premiering at a newly renovated theatre in Manhattan. Nuyorican Stories: Culture Clash in the City runs Sept. 22-Oct. 24 (officially opening Sept. 29) at INTAR 53 [sic], a newly renovated 80-seat, Off-Off-Broadway venue on West 53rd Street.
As they did with their previous, site-based works, Radio Mambo and Bordertown, the three members of Culture Clash -- Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza -- take their cue from real-life people. According to a production spokesperson, this time, several of the subjects are well known, and the show spends considerable time on "The Nuyorican Poets," a popular artistic and political movement of the 1970s. Among the notables covered are Miguel Pinero (Short Eyes), and Nuyorican Poets founders Miguel Algarin, Pedro Pietri and Lucky Cienfuegos.
Salinas told Playbill On-Line (Sept. 22), "In creating the piece, we started with a broad approach to the cultures of New York City between the end of the 60s and the `me society' of the 80s. But then we started concentrating on this one segment, and we gravitated toward the Nuyorican movement. It's a valentine's day card, really -- an homage to those who are no longer around as well as those who are still with us. Back then they had the Young Lords, a youth group, and the Poets, whose weapon was their words... You know, Miguel Pinero, he used to say he was living `Mi Vida Loca' [my crazy life], and he was."
Current events will also play a hand in the Culture Clash show, including references to the recent Trinidad vs. De La Jolla prizefight ("The fight of the millennium," Salinas noted, "and it was Puerto Rico vs. East L.A."!) and President Clinton releasing members of the FALN terrorist group. "We were going to have that in our show anyway," said Salinas, "but when they were freed, that changed the whole thing. We'll definitely bring that issue up."
Culture Clash's best-known work, Radio Mambo, had several regional outings, as well as a well-received Off-Broadway stint. Other pieces have included A Bowl of Beings, Carpa Clash and the Aristophanes adaptation, The Birds. At the moment there are no plans for Nuyorican Stories beyond the month-long New York stint, but Salinas says that could easily change. "When we first did Radio Mambo we thought we'd do it in Miami and that was it. Later on, we ended up doing it in Kansas." For tickets and information on Nuyorican Stories call (212) 279 4200. INTAR, itself celebrating an anniversary (its 35th), commissioned the new Culture Clash piece.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent
and David Lefkowitz