Wait until Glenn Beck finds out he was part of the inspiration behind Jose Torres-Tama's sci-fi/Latino/noir multimedia performance Aliens, Immigrants, & Other Evildoers.
Originally from Ecuador, Torres-Tama has called New Orleans home since 1984 and he's in Houston for a National Performance Network residency at MECA, which commissioned the work along with the Ashé Cultural Arts Center in New Orleans and GALA Hispanic Theatre in Washington D.C. Over the course of a few months Torres-Tama interviewed local immigrants in New Orleans, Houston and D.C., and their testimonials helped the artist put a human face on his "extraterrestrials."
In the politically charged, one-person multimedia act, made up of monologues, film shorts, sound-overs and lighting effects, the artist transforms into eight characters, three of which Torres-Tama would imagine as the aliens terrorizing Beck in his sleep.
There's an extraterrestrial female creature from the planet of Nicaragua who came to Houston as a child to reunite with her father. Referring to the U.S. involvement in her country's 1980s civil war, the Nicaraguan alien tells the presumably American and natural-species audience: "Voluntary amnesia protects you."
Another lifeform is a male creature from Honduras who, while attempting to cross into the States, is offered a precious gift of water by a trio of American good samaritans, who then take him hostage and hold him for ransom. Torres-Tama says the Hondurian alien somehow manages to escape only to find out that in Houston immigrants are easy targets for crime--he gets robbed.
From his interviews with day laborers in post-Katrina New Orleans, Torres-Tama presents the story of a 19 year-old alien who almost loses a (non-self-regenerating) limb while helping to rebuild the city. "The reconstruction of New Orleans by Latino immigrants is the city's dirty little secret," says Torres-Tamas, who claims wage theft, police brutality and random deportations are common. Why pay your work force when you can simply deport it?
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Torres-Tama explained to Art Attack that Dubya, while in office, made the statement over and over that "evildoers" were behind 9/11, and Torres-Tama uses the term satirically in his performance because he thinks "Latino immigrants are being referred to as 'terrorists' and 'evildoers' today by the likes of propagandists like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Republican Governor [Jan] Brewer of Arizona."
Naturally, Governor Brewer is skewered to the tune of a carnival soundtrack in Torres-Tama's evening of alien agit-prop.
Aliens, Immigrants, & Other Evildoers runs Friday and Saturday, October 15 & 16, 8 p.m., at MECA, 1900 Kane Street. For more information call 713 802 9370 or visit www.torrestama.com.