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Jose Torres-Tama examines immigration and civil rights in Taco Truck Theater

The performance piece and community ritual runs Sept. 9-10 at Art Garage and Ashe



Performance artist Jose Torres- Tama, usually wearing a T-shirt that says "No Guacamole for immigrant haters," begins Taco Truck Theater / Teatro Sin Fronteras' performance with a Voodoo incantation: "We petition Legba to open wide the pathways for our people crossing every day, every hour, every second to reclaim what was ours in the first place because the land has no borders, because our hearts have no borders ..." Equal parts multidisciplinary theatrical performance and community ritual, the piece chronicles the treatment of immigrants and recent anti-immigrant sentiments as well as issues of civil rights and violence against people of color. It involves poetry, performance, music and audience input, and there's tacos and vegan soul food (available beginning one hour before the show).

  Torres-Tama has created several theatrical pieces examining borders, immigration and treatment of Latino laborers who helped rebuild New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures. In recent years, he's used a series of grants to develop Taco Truck Theater, inspired by the work of Luis Valdez's El Teatro Campesino, which performed short comic works on the beds of flatbed trucks for migrant laborers in the 1970s. Torres-Tama bought a box truck with grant funding last year, and a version of the current piece debuted in May in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The truck provides a backdrop and carries the stage, and Torres-Tama is working on a tour schedule.

  The first half of the performance focuses on immigration issues and battling what Torres-Tama calls "The United States of Amnesia" and the nation's chronic lapses in commitments to equality. The second half is centered around cellist and poet Monica McIntyre's piece "Somebody Call My Name," inspired by Sandra Bland, who died in a Texas jail after being arrested during a traffic stop in 2015. It becomes a testimonial and ritual observance incorporating audience contributions.

  The ArteFuturo ensemble also includes Natalie Jones, Roberto Carillo, Mwende Katwiwa, Michael Ward-Bergeman and others.

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