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$CASINOAMERICA$
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In his NEA award-winning piece $CASINOAMERICA$, performance artist Jose Torres Tama examines gambling as a metaphor for life in contemporary America. While commenting on a culture that glorifies greed, he declares that we are all gamblers in one way or another and that "taking chances" is an intrinsic aspect of modern existence.

Some people take chances with their lives through sexual gambles in an age plagued by the AIDS virus. Others, such as the millions of immigrants who have descended upon this land for a chance at the "American dream," risk their cultural heritage and identity. The working class gamble their meager earnings to achieve overnight wealth and prosperity at the expense of their soul and humanity.

Torres Tama weaves these concepts into a surrealistic, multi-layered verbal collage, combining metaphoric prose, rituals of fire, bilingual poetry, and movement and incantations. Moving rapidly from poetic drama to the hilariously absurd, he delivers the hour-long monologue with various personae and manages to sculpt a visceral tableau of haunting images that have a lasting effect.

As "El Mephisto Moderno," a combination of a Latino game show host and a modern day Mephistopheles, Torres Tama entices you to "just give sleaze a chance." $CASINOAMERICA$ becomes the fictional name of a decadent land where the citizenry are absorbed in gambling as a religious ritual.

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