Sam's Online Salon: Plays About the Place We Call Home

Sam's Online Salon: Thoughts, Musings and Looking Ahead from Artistic Director Sam Woodhouse
Plays About the Place We Call Home

May 28, 2020

Think for a moment about the WHERE of the plays you have seen and loved. Most stories are local - be that locality New York City ( Lin - Manuel Miranda )  or London ( Caryll Churchill ) or the Southwestern desert (  Sam Shepard ). Why can't a play be set in Southern California or San Diego or on the border.
 It can. At San Diego REP we have repeatedly done just that. I call it " theatre about the place we call home. " Here are three of my favorites:
Culture Clash in Bordertown by Richard Montoya, Herbert Siguenza and Ric Salinas. 
In the late 90’s, San Diego REP commissioned Culture Clash to write a new play about our binational region. The trio interviewed nearly 100 citizens from San Diego and Tijuana. The resulting production included characters who have appeared subsequent works by Culture Clash e.g. the San Diego cab driver Oscar from Uganda and his buddy Paolo from the Philippines who are pledging their allegiance to the USA at their naturalization ceremony.
Nuevo California by Bernardo Solano and Allan Havis.
This binational production ( try starting on time when half your cast crosses the border each night from Tijuana to rehearse ) imagined that an earthquake had dropped LA into the ocean and Tijuana had merged with San Diego to become a new city state called Nuevo California. The first Pope in history who was born in Mexico comes to the border to oversee the birth of this new state. As a symbol of the new union, he blesses a child from San Diego and a child from Tijuana in the low tide waters at the border fence. Suddenly a gunshot is heard and the Pope is hit in the heart by a bullet...that was just scene one.
El Henry - a post - apocalyptic fantasy by Herbert Siguenza based on Shakespeare's Henry IV Part I. 
Set in a future when " all the Mexicans came North and the Gringos retreated to Colorado, " El Henry told the story of Chicano gangs and politicians fighting for control of a San Diego that had reverted to analog machinery and classic lowrider cars. We produced this play with La Jolla Playhouse outdoors in the summer of 2016 on a dirt lot in downtown San Diego as bikers shot by with their engines roaring and homeless people crowded the fence to see a play for free. 
Now we present Beachtown LIVE!, the latest tribute and investigative dive into the place we call home.
Check out this cool video about the production of El Henry made by Dave Rivas...

Photo Credits: Top Right: Richard Montoya, Herbert Siguenza and Ric Salinas in Culture Clash in Bordertown, photo by Ken Jacques; Lower: Herbert Siguenza in El Henry, photo by Jim Carmody.