Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, the Ashé Cultural Arts Center presents NEA award-winning performance artist, published playwright & poet, and interdisciplinary troublemaker José Torres-Tama in his new solo show.
Lighting Design: John Grimsley
Film Shorts: Bruce France Tshombe Tshanti José Torres-Tama
Also, this show celebrates 30 years that Torres-Tama has been developing original one-man plays in New Orleans.
In 1992, the Contemporary Arts Center commissioned his first performance solo, as part of the Live Arts Festival curated by then Performing Arts Director, James Borders.
UNITED STATES OF AMNESIA is driven by a visually dynamic magical realist Latino voodoo aesthetics,and Torres-Tama inhabits the role of a “Shamanistic Time Traveler” with invocations, spoken word, and performance rituals—where the sacred and profane converge.
Peppered with biting sardonic humor, he addresses 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 21 years since the 9/11 tragedy) is nothing new in a system that readily demonizes 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; Louisiana ICE Jails detain thousands of Latin American immigrants indefinitely; 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.
Additional support has come from a 2021 NEFA Development Grant, and a 2022 Platforms Fund.
Torres-Tama has had a long-time relationship with GALA Hispanic Theatre and the Ashé Cultural Arts Center. Both arts entities commissioned his critically acclaimed Aliens, Immigrants & Other Evildoers performance.
This is the final performance of an Immigration Trilogy the artist began back in 2005 with his post-Katrina solo, The Cone of Uncertainty,and it includes his Aliens show. This Immigration Trilogy of one-man plays & performance texts will be published in a forthcoming book.
US OF AMNESIA had its DC premiere at GALA Hispanic Theatre on Saturday & Sunday, June 11 & 12, 2022.