ALIENS Taco Truck Theater Project

by José Torres-Tama

LA

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ALIENS Taco Truck Theater Project: Latino immigrants in the USA are no longer living la vida loca of Ricky Martin’s 1990s popular anthem.  Political zealots have helped to forge widespread hysteria about “illegal” immigrants—driving anti-immigrant sentiment to a mad frenzy.  They have inspired hideous hate crimes against many Latinos—whether they are rightful citizens, legal residents, or undocumented workers. 

HISTORY: In 2010, I received a National Performance Network Creation Fund Award to develop ALIENS, IMMIGRANTS & OTHER EVILDOERS, a sci-fi Latino noir and multimedia performance exploring the rise in hate crime against immigrants.  ALIENS was developed through filmed interviews with Latino immigrants in the three cities of the commisioning partners, which are GALA Hispanic Theater in Washington, DC, MECA in Houston, and the Ashé Cultural Arts Center in New Orleans.

TACO TRUCK PROJECT: The ALIENS 2010-11 national performance tour generated great interest with sold out houses at Pangea Wolrd Theater in Minneapolis and Vanderbilt University.  It’s New Orleans debut generated strong critical press support and sold out houses as well.  The Times-Picayune theater critic praised it with the review headline, "Powerful performance art piece lets audience feel mistreatment of Hispanic immigrants.”

 The ALIENS Taco Truck Project is the traveling version of this stage performance, and it is inspired by the “carpa” theater of El Teatro Campesino, founded by the legendary Mexican playwright Luis Valdez.  Valdez’s theater company brought the plight of Mexican migrant farm workers in California on flatbed truck stages to Union Halls and public spaces, inspiring political awareness for workers’ struggles during the 60s and 70s.  Similarly, the ALIENS Taco Truck Theater Project is a mobile traveling show aimed at reaching immigrant workers and bringing a human face and heart about their current persecution to diverse audiences.

THE PROJECT: I want raise a minimum of $9,000 to initiate the ALIENS Taco Truck Project and develop a mobile stage on wheels.  The final objective is to purchase and convert a taco truck into a mobile theater.  The truck and show can be brought to pick-up points such as LOWES and the Home Depot parking lots—where day laborers gather for work.  Also, I plan to bring the ALIENS Taco Truck Theater Project to schools, churches, and other public spaces.  The mobility of the truck will make the work more accessible to immigrant workers, creating greater access across all borders of economical, racial, and geographical discrimination. 

Born in Ecuador and raised in New York and New Jersey, I have been living in New Orleans since 1984.  As an immigrant, I know first-hand the marginalization that one experiences when the system deems the foreigner a threat and as untrustworthy.  For the past twenty years of my professional stage and arts career, the thematic thrust of my work explores the underbelly of the North American Dream mythology, and in ALIENS, I expose the hypocrisy of a country built by immigrants that vilifies the same people whose labor it readily exploits.  Immigrant rights are at the forefront of my current work for the past six years, and as an artist, I am driven by a sense of urgency to confront the demonization of my people. 

The word “immigrant” itself has become synonymous with “criminals” and “terrorists.”  The greatest irony of the current war against immigrants is that the dominant culture’s appetite for Latino food seems insatiable, but some of the same people championing the food demonize the cooks.  Above all, the ALIENS Taco Truck Project is inspired by the need to develop a healthy dialogue about immigration policies that do not stem from cultural biases and fears.             

Thank you for your support.