Culture Clash Discusses Its New Play

Uploaded by KPBSSanDiego on 10.02.2012

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\f0\fs24 \cf0 >> JOANNE: Culture clash, the Latino performance troupe returns to the La
Jolla play house, with a story about a young immigrant who wants to take his citizenship
exam and he is transported into U.S. moments of history.\
Joining me are Richard Montoya the writer of the play and Ren\'e9 Mill\'e1n who plays
the lead role.\ I want to begin with you, Richard.\
There are so many ways you could have told the story like this, why did you choose following
this man in terms of taking his test?\ >> I would like to begin with you and I can't
concentrate, you're too gorgeous!\ It really was the idea of using humor to look
at the issue, people are so for or against and everything that was going on in Arizona
I thought with the use of humor as a tool, as a sugar coating, it would allow us a moment
to look at the issue, take back the idea of the town hall and humanize the story of a
man.\ When we think of our grandparents, maybe coming
through Ellis island, we're all a degree or two away from an immigrant's tale and I found
you need to remind audiences of that so we use the better parts of our humanity to look
at a man who is trying to better himself or his family and I think American audiences
have responded to that and the use of humor, whether it's Dick Cheney or Madonna, we are
here in a border region and there is humor to be found here.\
>> JOANNE: Ren\'e9 Mill\'e1n this is a story that's familiar to you, you grew up in San
Diego?\ >> I grew up in Logan heights, my parents
are immigrants and I grew up in a neighborhood that is filled with immigrants from Latin
America and hearing their stories and taking them to heart, that's part of my research,
going back to that.\ Going back to these stories that I heard.\
And even people that just had recently crossed the border and giving them water, food, not
asking any questions, just "hear you go," doing that in the neighborhood as well.\
>> JOANNE: Is that what attracted you to this role?\
>> From the get go I heard it was about a guy\'a0 an immigrant who was studying to take
the test and going through American history, I'm a big history fan myself and it was just\'a0
yeah, and to work with culture clash.\ I've been doing that my entire career.\
>> JOANNE: Richard, even though some of the stories that your play follows the story lines
are familiar to some in terms of history there are some less familiar characters in this
play as well.\ Tell us about them.\
>>> We have Lewis and Clark, and Sacajewawa and the crest trail and the latter day saint's
trail and folks like Viola Petice who was a self taught nurse
during an epidemic.\ Emmet Tihh\'a0 Till, Jackie Robinson, people
like Harry bridges who was a union organizer and an immigrant on the docks of San\'a0Francisco
so we look at the darker moments but we make light of the lighter moments in American history
and the sponge that is Juan is there to soak it up because as you said in your opening
comments he's trying to study, bother to go take the time to find the legal path to citizenship
and the play doesn't promote an open border or chaos, it says there are good, hard working
people that are willing to come and work and we ought not virrify them.\
Villify them.\ We look at things more critically, perhaps.\
>> JOANNE: This is so timely right now, this topic, what do you hope people walk away with,
Rene?\ >> At the end of the day I want people to
see this person who I think is representative of many immigrants that have come to this
country as a human being, as human beings with feelings and with emotions and with dreams
and hopes and just wanting to have a better life.\
And hard working.\ Juan works, I think, probably harder than
most to try to pass this test.\ And to me, that's what I try to bring to Juan
Jose, a three dimensional person who has had a past and say headed for a bright future.\
>> JOANNE: I want to let folks know it's currently on stage through February\'a026th at the La
Jolla play house, thank you for being here.\ >>> Thanks for having us.\