Conjuring the Past To Address the Present In a System that Seduces You To Forget
Written & Performed by
Ashé Cultural Arts Center
in New Orleans (Sept 2022)
& GALA Hispanic Theatre in DC (June 2022)
The Ashé Cultural Arts Center presented NEA award-winning performance artist, published playwright & poet, and interdisciplinary troublemaker José Torres-Tama in his latest performance.
GALA Hispanic Theatre Presented the US ofAMNESIA Debut in June 2022 in DC
Lighting Design: John Grimsley
Film Shorts: Bruce France Tshombe Tshanti José Torres-Tama
In September 2022, José Torres-Tama celebrated 30 years of developing original one-man performances on the stages of 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. Torres-Tama conjures the past to address the present in a system that seduces you to forget, and 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 20 plus 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 pandemic 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 revealed an open wound of disparities 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 2021 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.