Award-winning performance artist, published poet, playwright, and interdisciplinary provocateur José Torres-Tama premieres his new solo titled UNITED STATES OF AMNESIA: Dare to Remember at the regal GALA Hispanic Theatre in DC.
José has teamed up again with John Grimsley, award-winning creative lighting designer, who has developed the theater magic.
Driven by a visually inventive magical realist Latino voodoo aesthetics, Torres-Tama inhabits the role of a “Shamanistic Time Traveler” with invocations, spoken word, and rituals—where the sacred and profane converge.
Peppered with biting sardonic humor, he uncovers a forgotten legacy of anti-immigrant laws such as Operation Wetback (1954), Arizona's SB 1070 (2010), and the Zero Tolerance Policy (2018).
He reminds us that the current anti-immigrant hysteria gripping the country (for 20 years since the 9/11 tragedy) is nothing new in a system that readily vilifies the “immigrant” other to justify the exploitation of their labor.
He proclaims the UNITED STATES OF AMNESIA seduces people to embrace forgetting, and dares us to remember that blind nationalism has led to a resurrection of white supremacy—while the lingering pandemic has unmasked serious fault lines of a crumbling capitalist empire.
The most radical thing an artist can do today is dare to remember in a culture submerged in amnesia, lies, and misinformation! --- José Torres-Tama
In this fleeting era of racial reckoning post-murder of George Floyd, white police are still killing Black people, there’s a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, and the pandemic disparities persist in health care, employment, and housing.
It’s all enough to cause pandemic melancholic funk, but the artist inspires a revolutionary paradigm shift with astute and comic observations.
UNITED STATES OF AMNESIA is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by GALA Hispanic Theatre in DC in partnership with the Ashé Cultural Arts Center in New Orleans.
Torres-Tama has had a long-time relationship with GALA Hispanic Theatre and the Ashé Cultural Arts Center, and both arts entities commissioned his Aliens, Immigrants & Other Evildoers solo.
This is the final performance in the Immigration Trilogy the artist began in 2010, and it included the Taco Truck Theaterensemble project.
The Ashé Powerhouse in New Orleans presented two recent work-in-process shows of US OF AMNESIA on Friday & Saturday, April 8 & 9, 2022. These shows were supported by a NEFA Development Grant.
Brief Bio: José Torres-Tama is based in New Orleans, and is a thirty-year veteran in the performance art field. Since the 1990s, he has toured nationally and internationally to London, Liverpool, Mexico City, and performance festivals in Poland and Slovenia.
Among many awards he has received a New York MAPFUND for his Taco Truck Theater ensemble, three National Performance Network Creation Funds, a Louisiana Theater Fellowship, and an NEA Regional Artists Project Award.
In 2021, he was nominated for an Herb Alpert Award in Theatre and was previously nominated for a United States Artists Fellowship.
Critics across the country have praised Torres-Tama’s Live Art Performances:
Torres-Tama treads that dangerously vague turf of performance art gracefully … He takes Latino life on a magical mystery tour with dexterity and daring. --- The Village Voce (New York)
José Torres-Tama is a performance artist of the highest caliber. ---Los Angeles Theater Times
Torres-Tama is both a versatile writer who can be lyrically evocative as well as bitingly humorous, and an impressive performer.---The Philadelphia Inquirer