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CULTURE CLASH History

Founded on May 5th, 1984 (Cinco de Mayo) in San Francisco’s Mission District,¬†Culture Clash is Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza.¬†They have become the most prominent Chicano/Latino performance troupe in the country with work ranging from sketch comedy to an adaptation of Aristophanes, to the full length play¬†Chavez Ravine, to co-writing Frank Loesser’s long lost musicalSe√Īor Discretion Himself¬†based on a story by the legendary Bud Schulberg.

For the last fifteen years, Culture Clash has been focusing on site-specific theater, weaving personal narratives culled from interviews into an ongoing dramatic tapestry. Theater companies in Miami, San Diego, New York, Houston, Boston and San Francisco, among others, have commissioned Culture Clash to create performance pieces specifically for their cities. Their work gives immediate dramatic voice and expression to people in a certain time and place. It is theater of the moment, written and performed first for the people and communities on which it is based, and secondly for a broader audience. Culture Clash uses “performance collage” to bring history, geography, “urban excavation,” “forensic poetry” and storytelling together in a contemporary, movable theater narrative through a Chicano point of view–what Guillermo Gomez-Pena describes as “reverse anthropology.” Their work has been produced by the nation’s leading theaters including the Mark Taper Forum, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, La Jolla Playhouse, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, The Huntington, The Alley Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Seattle Repertory, The Goodman Theatre, among others. They have also toured and lectured at major universities and colleges including Syracuse University, Yale University, Stanford University, and Universities and state colleges of California. Culture Clash’s theatrical work includes¬†The Mission, A Bowl of Beings, S.O.S.-Comedy for These Urgent Times, Unplugged, Capra Clash, Radio Mambo: Culture Clash Invades Miami, Bordertown, The Birds, Nuyorican Stories, Anthology, Mission Magic Mystery Tour, Anthems: Culture Clash in the District, Chavez Ravine, Senor Discretion Himself, Culture Clash in AmeriCCa, Zorro in Hell¬†and¬†Water and Power.

Additionally, in 1992, Culture Clash co-produced, wrote and starred in an award-winning short film,¬†Columbus on Trial, directed by Lourdes Portillo. In 1993, Culture Clash made television history with the first-ever Chicano sketch TV show:¬†Culture Clash, which aired on several Fox syndication markets. In 2002, Culture Clash produced interactive video installations for Cheech Marin’s¬†Chicano Now–American Expressions¬†national touring art show.¬†

Culture Clash is the recipient of numerous awards, commissions and grants, including a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Latino Spirit Award, the Los Angeles Hispanic Media Award, the Nosotros Golden Eagle Award for Outstanding Theater Group, The Liberty Hill Foundation award and dozens of city and state proclamations commendations. Their videos, short films and art exhibits have been shown at The Smithsonian; The Whitney Museum of American Art; Sundance Film Festival; The San Juan, Puerto Rico Film and Video Festival; The Art Institute of Boston, Palm Springs Film Festival and The Los Angeles Film Festival, among others.

Culture Clash has two books of compilations: Culture Clash: Life, Death and Revolutionary Comedy and Culture Clash in AmeriCCa, both for TCG Books. Audio versions of Radio Mambo, Bordertown and Chavez Ravine are available through Los Angeles Theatre works,www.latw.org.