May 3, 2002

Culture Clash Returns to San Diego With AmeriCCa

By Francisco H. Ciriza

The aggressive, intelligent, and often poetic comedy of the trio of Herbert Siguenza, Richard Montoya, and Ric Salinas, Culture Clash has returned to San Diego with its latest compilation of work. The group, originally from San Francisco, has presented its unique and fast-paced string of vignettes to San Diego audiences for years and once again landing San Diego’s Lyceum Theater for yet another extended stay.

This year’s show, entitled, AmeriCCa, finds the witty troupe under the direction of Tony Taccone and with a somber, even painful, introspective of American life, something Culture Clash member, Herbert Siguenza, attributes to the talents of Taccone as well as the continued development of their art. “Tony did a great job with the transitions, notes on acting and really giving the show a whole concept,” says a cheerful and polite Siguenza, who along with his mates in comedy fielded a slew of phone calls from local media this week. Focusing his evaluative sights on the group, Siguenza, surmised, “After eighteen years, we’ve gotten to be better actors that’s just the evolution of our work, we’ll always do comedy, but we are naturally digging deeper now.”

For the uninitiated, Culture Clash shows flow at breakneck speed as Siguenza and company transform themselves into various stereotypical yet unique characters created based on numerous personal interviews the three have conducted over recent years in Miami, New York, and San Diego, communities where diversity and complexity swirl in and around “mainstream” America desperately seeking, but rarely succeeding, resulting in the proverbial and ever-elusive melting pot. “The characters, the people you see in our shows are not the ones you see on television or at the movies. The ones we portray are the underdogs,” says Siguenza.

The group’s research in San Diego has produced pieces featuring suburban Lesbians in Carmel Mountain Ranch, teenage Asian car crew members, P.B. Surfers, a Vietnam veteran and expatriate living in Tijuana, and two immigrants, one Ugandan, the other Philipino as they await their naturalization ceremony.

While consistently funny, Culture Clash’s strength lies in its ability to seek out the unspoken, the difficult to admit, and those hidden elements of our lives with which we struggle. Humor, an open mind, and brutal honesty are the keys here, as Siguenza demonstrates, “the white male is becoming an endangered species. America is getting browner and people need to understand that and embrace it. It’s not something to be afraid of... it’s just the way it is.”

Culture Clash will be presented at Lyceum Theater (Horton Plaza) through May 12, 2002. For information call 619- 544-1000.

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