The next stop on our weekend LA theatre tour was a very festive opening night at the Pasadena Playhouse. I told Chloe that I was super excited for her to get a taste of Culture Cash, one of LA's most esteemed performance groups. These guys have been shaking up the theatre community forever it seems, unabashedly cultivating their own style though voicing very local issues that have punched audiences in the gut for years. In fact, it had been twenty years since the original production of their ever-poignant Bordertown. Now we found ourselves at the tremendously gorgeous state theatre of California for opening night of their fully reloaded, updated and more culturally relevant than ever: Bordertown Now.
Out of the patio, people were everywhere: sipping margaritas, chatting up artistic staff, posing on the red carpet. I've said it before, the Playhouse knows how to throw an opening. But this one was exceptionally hopp'in. The true LA theatre elite turn up for Culture Clash, and renowned director Diane Rodriguez. Culture Clash, composed of life-long buds Richard Montoya, Herbert Sigüenza and Ricardo Salinas, never fails to bring on the political satire in a way that rolls out a lot of laughs while hitting just close enough to the heart to make a difference. They have truly perfected the art of making an audience uncomfortable enough, yet hopeful enough that we have the tools and the power to change our society. And Diane Rodriguez, fierce renegade of the Latino-American theatre community, could not be a better person to help these guys make the urban theatre magic happen.
I have only seen two Culture Clash production during my short time in LA theatre, however, I will say that I had more fun at the Chavez Ravine reboot. Yes there is certainly comic relief in Bordertown Now, but this one leans so much on the politics and history that there's a bit of a more timely message present. The show definitely raised my awareness for what's going on at our borders. I had never really considered the immense amount of perspective toeing that borderline, on both sides. The violence and the hate stems from fear. On both sides. Hmm. The show also made me want to understand this dilemma more, through research and asking more questions, from both sides of the spectrum. This is theatre that makes you question your world views and why you lean the way you do.
We can build a wall, but that won't keep our kids safe from other kids.
If you're a fan of Culture Clash, make sure you make your way over to the Pasadena Playhouse this weekend to catch their latest, greatest revamped remount: Bordertown Now. Take a step into the "new" wild west and ask yourself what we can do to raise awareness for just what happens at the border. These guys did. And with all the craziness going on in this country right now, you'll be glad you did too.