Diversity and Parity in Theatre: Notes from the Dramatists Guild Conference in San Diego

female writers

Licensing, royalties, and writing were the main topics when the National Dramatists Guild (DG) convened at Torrey Pines. The Dramatist Guild is a community of playwrights, composers and lyricists dedicated to protecting, informing and promoting the interests of dramatists everywhere.

Hundreds of people came from different parts of the country and even the world this past weekend to passionately discuss how when, where and why they are guided by the pen. The conference is held every two years in a different city.

There were many known names, those who have and are still writing what everybody is talking about (ahem Frozen…Wicked)   [Read more…]

La Jolla Playhouse’s ‘Come From Away’ is a Different Take on 9/11

come from Away

By Mukul  Khurana

On 9/11 of 2001, Gander was discovered by America. To put it correctly, this small Canadian town on the island of Newfoundland was rediscovered by America. It is the location of Gander International Airport.

Here comes an important fact—it was, by virtue of its geography, an important refueling site for transatlantic aircraft as they had to stop somewhere after crossing the ocean.

Here is another fact—most of the streets in Gander are named after aviators—Earhart, Lindbergh, Yeager, and the like. To this day, Gander International Airport still serves as the airport of choice when it comes to medical or security emergencies–hence the 9/11 connection.   [Read more…]

PLACAS: Family, Roots and Loyalty

Ric Salinas as Placas

It had always been difficult for me to watch a Chicano/Chicano-type play in San Diego. I always feel that they present a stereotype instead of an authentic story. Looking at it another way, I guess those past productions achieved their goal on the most basic level of using the art of theater to provoke thought and analysis.

My feelings about this subject of theater changed this past April when I saw “PLACAS: The Most Dangerous Tattoo,” a play written by Paul S. Flores, developed with and directed by Michael John Garcés. The play screamed “This is it! This is the way it is.”   [Read more…]

‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Is a Resource-Conscious Blockbuster for Our Time

madmax v2

By Kate Aronoff / Yes! Magazine

When the first Mad Max was released back in 1979, the era’s reigning existential threats were nuclear winter and, to a lesser extent, peak oil. Set in a not-too-distant dystopian future and against the harsh backdrop of rural Australia, viewers’ ability to map their own fears onto the screen was crucial to that film’s success.

Although the fears have changed, you could say the same thing about Mad Max: Fury Road, the series’ long-awaited fourth installment. Released this month in the midst of California’s historic drought and increasingly bleak studies about the likelihood of catastrophic climate change, the film plays more on viewers’ anxieties about a carbon bomb than a nuclear one.   [Read more…]

7 billion Others : A Sea of Stories at the Museum of Photographic Arts

billion others

By Nat Krieger

One hundred years ago movies were a new technology and folks were getting excited. Humans had been making images since there were humans but for the first time ever pictures could move, and laugh, and cry. The possibilities seemed so deliriously infinite that in 1908 Brazilian essayist João do Rio was moved to declare that, “in the future, the man of our era will be classified as the homo cinematographicus.”

Breakthrough technologies are never only children and the telephone, motion picture’s slightly older sister, was also inspiring some pretty high hopes. Writing in 1891, AT&T’s John J. Carty doffed his chief engineer’s cap and slipped into a prophet’s robe: “Someday we will build up a world telephone system, making necessary to all peoples the use of a common language or common understanding of languages, which will join all the people of the earth into one brotherhood. There will be heard throughout the earth a great voice coming out of the ether which will proclaim, ‘Peace on earth, good will towards men.'”   [Read more…]

When Home Doesn’t Feel Like Home


The Human Face Of Border Crossers

On Friday, May 8th The Front Art and Culture Center in San Ysidro presented a first reading of Raul Castillo’s Border Crossing, a play that explores the nuances of the migrant experience.

Micah Parzen, CEO of the San Diego Museum of Man, commissioned the piece as a way to launch a deeper conversation about immigration. He asked the La Jolla Playhouse to find a playwright and also contacted the National Conflict Resolution Center to collaborate. He then worked with The Front—located less than a mile from the largest land port of entry in the world—to host a trial reading with six actors sitting in a circle surrounded by an intimate audience.   [Read more…]

Barrio Bits: Placas, Chicano Park Day and Barrio Art Crawl

Saturday is Chicano Park Day AND Barrio Art Crawl! I repeat. Saturday is Chicano Park Day AND Barrio Art Crawl!

For the first time in the history of the universe two of the greatest things (of the many) that Barrio Logan offers is happening on the same day. From 10am until 5pm you can enjoy the sights and sounds that is the annual Chicano Park Day celebration then from 5pm until 9pm you can crawl the streets of La Logan in search of artistic enjoyment at the various art venues within this creative community.

Chicano Park was founded on April 22, 1970 as a land takeover by community members after they found out that a California Highway Patrol substation was going to be built on the site instead of a park. In 2013, due to the beautiful murals that grace the pillars of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, Chicano Park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.   [Read more…]

Playwright Paul S. Flores’ PLACAS: The Most Dangerous Tattoo is Coming to San Diego

Part Two of a Two Part Interview with the Former Chula Vistan and UCSD Student

By Brent E. Beltrán

For Part I of the interview please visit.

In this second installment of my two part interview with playwright Paul S. Flores he discusses the founding of Los Delicados, what poetry means to him, his novel Along The Border Lies, what attracted him to theatre, his play PLACAS: The Most Dangerous Tattoo, the casting of Culture Clash’s Ric Salinas in the lead role, the outreach for the play, him being named a Doris Duke Artist, and what advice he’d give to fledgling minority writers.   [Read more…]

Playwright Paul S. Flores Brings PLACAS to San Diego

Part One of a Two Part Interview with the Former Chula Vistan and UCSD Student

By Brent E. Beltrán

Writer Paul S. Flores grew up in Chula Vista and attended UCSD. He moved to San Francisco to pursue his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. While there he immersed himself in the Bay Area arts/activist scene, helped found Youth Speaks, co-founded the irreverent poetry troupe Los Delicados, wrote an award winning novel, Along The Border Lies, wrote and performed his original plays, had children, and was recently named a Doris Duke Artist. His play PLACAS: The Most Dangerous Tattoo is touring California with a stop in San Diego April 23-25.

I met Paul, along with his Delicado compatriots, at a Floricanto Festival in San Jose in 1999 while publisher of the grassroots literary publishing house Calaca Press. In 2000, Calaca Press produced the spoken word CD anthology, Raza Spoken Here 2, which featured their poem Presente! In 2001 Calaca released their full length CD, Word Descarga. Since then Paul has gone on to do some tremendous literary work.   [Read more…]

San Diego Latino Film Festival 2015 Wrap Up

By Mukul Khurana

In case it wasn’t clear—The San Diego Latino Film Festival went through some big changes this year. The main change was the venue—from Hazard Center to Fashion Valley. Phil Lorenzo was on hand to explain the logic behind the move. Hazard Center wasn’t big enough to accommodate the growth expected over the next few years. As Exhibition Director, Phil has to look to the future of the festival. Besides the growth expected, there was the issue of working with sponsors (Lexus and Microsoft come to mind). Phil added that even the possibility of working in their storefronts was an option—moving into the mall from the theaters to a minor degree.   [Read more…]

Video: The San Diego March for Ayotzinapa

The quest for justice for the 43 Mexican students continues

By Horacio Jones

When I heard that the families of the “normalistas” were coming to San Diego I was keen to do a story on their caravan. Ever since I heard about the kidnappings I felt compelled to do whatever I could to support their cause against the “narcos” and the Mexican government. I feel that the only way things will change in Mexico is through the grassroots efforts of people like these who are tired and disgusted with the current state of Mexican politics.

There have been numerous calls by the international human rights community to continue the investigation but the government has seemingly disregarded them. It’s evident that the government doesn’t want the real truth to be known, especially if it may implicate them or the armed forces.   [Read more…]

Lena Horne: A Great Lady Who Broke the Color Line

Lena Horne was the first black woman to get a contract with a major Hollywood Studio

By John Lawrence

Born into a black bourgeoisie family in 1917, Lena Horne was signed up in the NAACP by her grandmother, Cora Calhoun Horne, a college graduate, at the age of two. The Hornes owned a four-story residence in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn.

The distinguished Horne family included teachers, activists and a Harlem Renaissance poet. Lena’s uncle became dean of a black college. According to James Gavin’s biography of Lena, Stormy Weather, the black bourgeoisie were descendants of favored slaves “privileged blacks who, by virtue of their brains or their sexual allure to their masters, had worked in the house, not in the field. During the decade-long heyday of Reconstruction, they’d used their cachet to start businesses and gain social standing.”

Lena’s grandmother drilled into her respectability at all costs. She was to use proper diction, no dialect allowed, and always present herself as a lady. Cora was a determined fighter for black causes, and, despite her disdain for whites, she married a white man. According to Gavin, Cora’s cafe au lait skin, thin lips and delicate nose betrayed generations of intermingling with whites. Her maiden name, Calhoun, came from her father’s slavemaster in Georgia, Dr. Andrew Bonaparte Calhoun. His uncle was Senator John C Calhoun who championed slavery as God’s will.   [Read more…]

Celebrations of César E. Chávez Span Six Weeks Around San Diego

“The legacy of the United Farm Workers union in its first decade provides us with key lessons for the present and future. It reminds us that grass-roots power organized and deployed by ‘disposable’ workers, fearlessness in the face of corporate exploitation, and the political uses of music, theater, and ritual can change history. In 2015, in a society based on greed and personal ambition, we ignore these lessons at own peril.” –Jorge Mariscal, Professor, UC San Diego

While Monday, March 31st is the official César E. Chávez day, activities celebrating his legacy as a labor and civil rights leader will continue into May. The day is commemorated to promote service to the community in honor of his life and work. The ongoing activities are about continuing that legacy.

Thanks to the UCSD Blink, produced by the faculty and staff of that fine institution, for providing us with a list of activities over the next six weeks honoring the life and achievements of César E. Chávez.   [Read more…]

Change Is Still in the Air for San Diego Latino Film Festival 2015

By Mukul Khurana

Day 3+ began with EN FAMILIA, the shorts program meant for the whole family, which had some charming and funny entries: CHULA (Puerto Rico 2014) directed by Victoria Sorberal, was one of those funny and entertaining shorts. Bebo can’t be found on his wedding day! Various detours later, it is a happy wedding. But first…

Also from the islands, THE EXTRAORDINARY MR. JUPITER (Puerto Rico 2014) directed by Federico Torres Fernandez turned out to be a lovely magical tale of romance. True love is hard to find—but not if you are a magician. ***** Life can be cruel. Sometimes, only flowers can soften the blow. In EL MAESTRO Y LA FLOR (Mexico 2014) directed by Daniel Irabien, a teacher must decide what he is willing to give up for love.
  [Read more…]

Change is in the Air at the San Diego Latino Film Festival 2015

By Mukul Khurana

It seems hard to believe that the San Diego Latino Film Festival has been around for 22 years, but it’s true! But with full adult status, come some growing changes. In the background since last year, a transition has been achieved from the Hazard Center to the Fashion Valley Center. But those are not the only changes to be felt.

Phillip (Phil) Lorenzo has returned to SDLFF as Exhibition Director after a seven year absence during which he worked with SDAFF. One other thing that was different this year—it didn’t rain to mark the beginning of the festival. Instead, we were in the throes of a heat wave courtesy of our Santa Ana winds (in keeping with climate change predictions).

The people who braved the heat were rewarded by the usual excellent shorts on the first day in the form of DOCU-SHORTS. The unusual mix included a short about the decline of marriage and partnership over time, a maternity home for pregnant women in Cuba, and a photographer’s story (a man in Castro’s rebel army), among others.   [Read more…]

The Rep’s Oedipus El Rey: A Greek Classic Meets Chicano Mysticism

By Doug Porter

We are fortunate to live in a city where theater and the performing arts flourish. San Diego’s offerings are enriched by companies large and small; those that hew to tradition and those willing to stretch the limits of artistic expression.

The San Diego Repertory Theatre has been at it for nearly four decades, “promoting a more inclusive community through work that nourishes progressive and social values.” The current production of Oedipus El Rey speaks to those values through a modern day adaptation of Sophocles’ classic Greek drama, first performed in 429 B.C.

The ancient temples of Thebes are recast as the barrios of Southern California. Greek mysticism is supplanted by Mexican mythology. And the city-state is presented as gang turf. The familiar chorus from Greek theater is now bilingual and just as nuanced as ever.   [Read more…]

‘The Grift': Mysteries and Cons at the Lafayette Hotel

Theater without the seat

By Alejandra Enciso Guzmán

Sometimes the word “theater” can be an intimidating one. Different festivals and companies around the world are recognizing that feeling of intimidation and have designed productions in non-theater related spaces like basketball courts, school yards, parking lots and so on. San Diego is also exploring this dynamic with events such as The Fringe and WoW (Without Walls) festivals.

Each festival, as with every project, entails a learning process. Since the WoW festival is designed to happen every two years, there are several shows in prep for it which give people the idea of the festival. These shows also act as a thermometer, testing out audience’s response to the building hype.

“The Grift,” the latest presentation in the WoW series, is a very particular, creative and innovative way to not only attract new audiences but to also boost teamwork and new relations and friendships. This theatrical event was created exclusively for the Lafayette Hotel, a California boutique hotel located in North Park since 1946.   [Read more…]

5 Takeaways After Watching ‘The Hunting Ground,’ the New Documentary on Campus Sexual Violence

By Sandra S. Park / ACLU Blog of Rights

Agonizing. Enraging. Inspiring. These are a few words that came to mind after watching “The Hunting Ground,” a new documentary on campus sexual violence that opened this past weekend.

Like “The Invisible War,” the Oscar-nominated documentary on military sexual violence also created by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, “The Hunting Ground” makes the case that there are systemic problems at colleges and universities to addressing sexual assault that must and can be confronted, right now.

As public debate continues on how we can best respond to campus sexual violence, the film makes an important contribution by highlighting the voices of survivors, their parents, and university staff in rallying together to become advocates.   [Read more…]

Many Battles Being Fought Over Climate Change

By Doug Porter

The State of California Water Resources Control Board says residential water conservation is not working and there are rumblings about adopting permanent, rather than emergency water conservation measures.

Former Todd Gloria staffer Nicole Capretz has started a non-profit group to keep pressure on the City of San Diego as the Climate Action Plan moves from concept to reality. Activist groups, led by the local chapter of 350.org and the Environmental Health Coalition staged a rally in Balboa Park on Monday to urge local leaders to move decisively.

And a two-decade-long study by scientists with the University of Southern California offers up proof that declining air pollution is measurably improving children’s health.

There’s all this and much more in today’s news wrapup…   [Read more…]

22nd Annual San Diego Latino Film Festival Media Kick-Off Party (Video)

By Horacio Jones

For 22 years the San Diego Latino Film Festival put on by the Media Arts Center has brought great independent cinema to San Diego. It has become a unique event that many locals look forward to every year.

This year the film festival has moved their venue to AMC Fashion Valley 18 and has a new sponsor – San Diego County Lexus Dealers. During the Media Kick-Off Party I caught up with festival founder Ethan van Thillo, who gave a preview about what to expect during this year’s film festival. Several local filmmakers and actors were also in attendance and I interviewed Adriana Bush about her local documentary “Jessica Fights Back.” I also got to speak with a young local actress, Johanna Trujillo about her starring role in “Lake Los Angeles.”   [Read more…]

The “Darrell Hammond Project” at the La Jolla Playhouse

By Alejandra Enciso Guzmán

When the name “Darrell Hammond” is heard or read, the immediate association is with Saturday Night Live and comedy. Hammond holds the title for being the longest running cast member on the show (14 years), as well as for the most impressions by a single Saturday Night Live cast member: Bill Clinton, Regis Philbin, Dan Rather, John Travolta, Jesse Jackson, Richard Dreyfus, Jay Leno, Donald Trump and Sean Connery in the ever-popular “Celebrity Jeopardy” skits. He also has the distinction of being the person that has said the show’s catch phrase “Live From New York, It’s Saturday Night!” the most often.

In 2011, Hammond released his memoir “God, If You’re Not Up There, I’m F*cked: Tales of Stand-Up, Saturday Night Live and Other Mind-Altering Mayhem.” It was so well received that Hammond scaled the piece to a live performance. “The Darrell Hammond Project,” co-written with Elizabeth Steins, is the result.   [Read more…]

Stories from Young Minds Taking the Stage

By Ernie McCray

The Playwrights Project has been producing plays written by dramatists, under age 19, for 30 years.

It all begins with the California Young Playwrights Contest, a statewide competition.

This year there were 581 entrants, way more than usual, and the stories of eight extremely talented writers made it to the stage – at the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre at the Old Globe, no less.

Four of the plays earned full production and four are performed as staged readings – and I mean “staged,” because the Playwrights Project has no bounds when it comes to creative performances.   [Read more…]

The American Sniper As Hero

By FDRDemocrat/ Daily Kos

The controversy over the movie American Sniper has predictably reopened the divide among many Americans over the Iraq War.  What is more interesting is how the choice made by director Clint Eastwood to choose a sniper as a heroic archetype unravels classic notions of what is considered heroism.

The concept of heroism has been with humanity since the beginning.  At it’s heart it contains a common thread where the hero (or heroine) risks themselves for the sake of others.

How then to adapt the heroic archetype to the profession of sniper?  This is no easy task.   [Read more…]

‘Steal Heaven’ Is a Must See

By Ernie McCray

This New Year, 2015, was already moving along nicely for me, but it shifted into high gear the other night when Maria and I went to see the San Diego RepertoryTheatre’s “Steal Heaven,” a play written by one of my favorite theater artists, Herbert Siguenza. This multitalented actor, playwright, director and producer is a founding member of Culture Clash, a performance group known for its rich satirical look at the world and its politics – from a Chicano perspective. I’ve loved everything they’ve ever done.   [Read more…]

Herbert Siguenza on ‘Steal Heaven’: We Have More Power Than We Think

The San Diego REP begins 2015 with Herbert Siguenza’s tribute to Abbie Hoffman

By Alejandra Enciso Guzmán

Abbie Hoffman was an American political activist who also founded the Youth International Party (Yippies) in 1968 and was known for his successful media events. The Yippies were likely to use ‘guerrilla’ theater or public pranks to bring attention to their causes.

Hoffman’s legacy lives on at the San Diego Repertory Theatre when it stages the world premiere of “Steal Heaven.” The production, which opens on January 10 is by Herbert Siguenza who also acts and co-directs along with Todd Salovey.

“Abbie Hoffman was a political figure of the sixties. Some people called him ‘crazy’ or ‘ultra-radical’ but the things he was saying back then have all come true,” …   [Read more…]