José Torres-Tama was born in Ecuador, South America and he grew up in New Jersey and New York.
He has lived in New Orleans since 1984 a place he describes as his Spiritual Home. He is an artist who through his bilingual poetry, visual art and critical writings explores the effects of media on racial relations in the United States. The American dream, mythology and the Latino immigrant experience.
For 90 minutes the audience at the Shadowbox Theatre, mostly Latinos from different social class, remained attentive to the narrative that the artist unfolded act by act. "Aliens, Immigrants, and other Evil Doers," the title of the play, is like a science fiction movie, and award-winning monologue. This work satirizes the situation of Latino immigrants and foreigners and explores the rise of hate crimes against Latinos around the United States.
Torres-Tama opens the show of eight characters, entering the theatre burden by a cross that has been adorned with dollar bills, symbolizing the pain of the immigrants who come in search of the American dream in a country built by immigrants, who curse the very people whose work is being exploited.
"Art is part of my being; I do not separate art with social outcry, it is a philosophical art, aesthetically well done, well written depicting human ideas. He brings a human heart to the stage". Torres-Tama.
The example of the Nicaraguan woman who crossed the border when she was 8 years old, accompanied by her three younger sisters in order to join her father, who escaped during the civil war of the 80's.
Or the story of the young Honduran and his brother who were kidnapped at the border as they crossed over to the United States, recounts how the kidnappers demand telephone numbers of relatives abroad for extortion and if they do not cooperate they are murdered. How they were able to escape, how they were able to make it, finding jobs and on a good day their brother was assaulted, beaten and the worse part yet the perpetrators call the police and accuse him of trying to rape the woman who accompanied them. He is currently in jail, his mother whom they came for died and his younger brother is due out in January 2011 who he is waiting to tell of his mother's death plus hopes to convince him to return home.
The New Orleans activist worker; who had his arm reconstructed after an on the job accident and the contractors indifference.
His work has received praise and criticism from different sectors, but as Tama said, during our interview, "I think many people are interested in seeing something that is refined, that is multimedia, which also has humor, because I use humor subversively, the plays acceptance in this city has been great, the response has been magnificent.
"Regarding the reviews he told us, "The Times Picayune gave a fairly strong review, they did not like the subject of the cross, the Honduran immigrant, I urge someone of the public to translate this genuine story and to preserve its character, I am an immigrant I am Latino and I know what it is to be discriminated."
Jose Torres-Tama concluded his series of shows in New Orleans, now the stages of Houston, Minneapolis and Washington DC await him.
Brenda Murphy is publisher of Jambalaya News.
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