El Henry will premiere Saturday June 14th…Shakespeare with a Latino twist.
By Alejandra Enciso Guzmán
The Without Walls (WoW) Festival is site specific theater held at different venues throughout San Diego. The La Jolla Playhouse showcased this program in October of last year to great critical acclaim. “While the central idea of Without Walls is about exploring new theatrical forms by moving beyond the traditional four walls of a theater, we’ve found over the past several years that WoW is just as much about collaboration,” said Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley.
The latest WoW production is El Henry, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part One, written by and starring Culture Clash’s Herbert Siguenza. Siguenza describes his artistic approach, saying “The original play is about the king and queen of England, my adaptation is about California in the future, the year 2045. I imagined that by that time, California will be in its majority Latino. So, all the characters in this play are Chicano and Latino.”
Directed by San Diego REPertory Theatre Artistic Director Sam Woodhouse and presented in association with San Diego REP, the show will run June 14 – 29 at SILO in downtown San Diego’s Makers Quarter.
The show has a cast of 15 actors. Two of the staring roles will be played by Kinan Valdez (“El Bravo”) and Lakin Valdez (“El Henry”), sons of internationally-renowned writer and director Luis Valdez (Zoot Suit, La Bamba). “They grew up doing this type of street theater, open air, they are very good. The plot is about how ‘El Henry’ goes from being a street kid, to the prince of El barrio. We are going to dance, we are going to sing, and it is going to be a good time. Shakespeare’s plays were like that, always combining drama with comedy, ’” added Siguenza, who will be playing ‘Faust,’ Prince Henry’s sidekick.
Although the play will be performed in English, it will include a wide range of ‘caló’ (Mexican slang) as well as Latin flavor and futuristic costumes. There will also be low riders and motorcycles. Why Shakespeare? Why Henry IV? And why futuristic? I asked Siguenza…
I imagine that society will change and that we will be the majority group. That is of great interest to me. I might not be alive by that time, but it does certainly concern me how it’s going to be culturally and politically. Good things and bad things come to my mind. To me it is also a possibility that Mexico’s violence and corruption might cross the border as well…
Performances for El Henry will run Tuesday through Sunday at 7:30pm. Tickets are $25 and will be available at La Jolla Playhouse and San Diego REP or online at LaJollaPlayhouse.org
Hebert Siguenza is also working on another project titled Steal Heaven for San Diego REP to premiere in January 2015 about Abbie Hoffman. Siguenza will be playing the 60’s activist.
Alejandra Enciso Guzmán is an arts consultant and reporter in both Tijuana and San Diego. @Riselah / @Riselaheng