SD Rep Debuts 'Vamos!' Tonight
KPBS Midday Edition Segments / January 11, 2021
San Diego Rep and its playwright-in-residence Herbert Siguenza are launching a new online program called "Vamos!" tonight. The series comes out on the second Monday of each month on the Rep's social media and will highlight a different Latin country in each episode.
Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego rep and it's playwright in residence. Herbert sequenza are launching a new online program called Vamos tonight. They will debut a new episode on the second Monday of each month on the rep's social media, KPBS arts reporter, Beth Armando Amando previews. The show that is designed to highlight a different Latin country. In each episode, Herbert, you have a new project with the San Diego rep called Vamos. So first of all, just tell us what this is. What can people expect from this?
Speaker 2: 00:31 This is kind of a fantasy TV show that I've always wanted to see on TV. And since we're on lockdown, you know, we're always looking for stuff to put online at San Diego rep. And I told Sam, Hey, there's this idea I have that I've always had a TV show. I've always wanted to see a TV show like Anthony Bordain or something like that, that he just concentrates on Latin America. And so that's what I did. I'm going to put out a show that each month I'm going to pick a country. I can't go to there, but, um, you know, I'm going to do the research and I know a lot about Latin American history. I've taught Latin American history, and I just want to show people the beauty and the diversity that each Latin American country has and what they offer to the world, uh, culturally and, uh, in the culinary world as well. I'm going to be giving up, showing a recipe at the end of every show. I'm going to be, um, going through a recipe with,
Speaker 1: 01:25 So what can people expect in terms of the format of this? Is it just going to be you, or are you going to be interviewing people? Is there performance involved? What exactly can they expect?
Speaker 2: 01:35 I'm developing as we speak, I'm going to do kind of a humorous kind of a pitch, a presentation of the country. In other words, I'm going to spend about 10 minutes, uh, giving people some context of the country, you know, its history, its writers, its geography, and the music and all that. Just talking about the country itself, the politics, of course. And then, um, I'm going to show a video of one of their, you know, prominent musicians. Perhaps I might read some poetry from one of their, uh, great poets, for example, I'm doing chili right now. I'm editing chili. I will be reading some poems by Pablo Neruda, of course. And then we're going to end with a recipe of my, uh, empanadas, empanadas from Chile are delicious.
Speaker 1: 02:25 So this show is going to be the second Monday of every month. So is Chile going to be the first country of focus then
Speaker 2: 02:32 Actually bet who is, but it was already been done. You know, I talk about, uh, Peruvian culture and of course I can give a recipe on Savage at the end, talk about the Incan culture. And I just give some, some background on how diverse Peru is. You know, I mean, uh, there was a big migration of Japanese that people that went there, Chinese, you know, one of their presidents, Fujimori was, was a Japanese descent. So these are things like that. I just want to remind people that Latin America is not this homogenous country, you know, South of the border thing. Each country has its unique culture, its unique history and they're very different. They're very different actually
Speaker 1: 03:11 Were you and the rep looking at things to do online and virtually to keep people engaged. And, and was that kind of the thing that you were looking into doing?
Speaker 2: 03:20 We found out when we were down in, when really unlocked down in April, I was doing a show called a lunch breaks with Herbert's of Windsor. They were just one minute shows or two minute shows where I would just do poetry or, you know, tell a joke or something like that. It was just a, a fun way to just connect with people. But we found out that when I did a recipe, when I did a live recipe, those would get the best reviews and they would get the most views. So this is kind of expanding on that using the, the cooking as a, as a way in to explaining other things like history and culture.
Speaker 1: 03:55 Now, for some people who are younger and may not be as familiar with your work, remind people of your roots in culture clash and how that kind of has colored the way you look at art and at the kind of things you want to express.
Speaker 2: 04:09 Yes. Um, I'm a founding member of culture clash, which is celebrating 36 years together. We were founded in San Francisco in an art gallery and did bilingual. We did comedy about being bilingual about being bicultural and we became very successful. You know, we did a lot of work, especially for the San Diego rep and the Mark taper forum in LA and, and uh, now I'm here now I'm here working for the rep. I am, I'm a playwright in residence here through a Mellon grant and I'll be here another two more, two more years, at least, uh, working for the ref, but I don't plan to leave. I really, I, I really liked the, the, the, the artistic, uh, environment here in San Diego. And so I I'm, I'm, I'm going to stay, I'm going to stay and live here and try to work here as well.
Speaker 1: 04:56 Well, that reminds me, you do have this long standing relationship with the San Diego rep. What has that been like over the years in terms of the things you feel like you've been able to do and how that's benefited you?
Speaker 2: 05:08 Well, the San Diego rep has been basically my artistic home. I mean, um, they produced culture clash over the years. Like, I don't know about eight times over the years in the nineties and the two thousands. And then when I got this grant, this, um, this Mellon grant they've produced all my play or they produced all the, all the plays that I've written as a solo artist, but one of our most successful collaborations has been a one man show called a weekend with Pablo Picasso, which premiered at the rep and then toward the, the nation. And, uh, this year, last year, should I say last year, we, we did a film version of a weekend with polyps.
Speaker 1: 05:48 Awesome. The pandemic has been a real challenge for arts organizations because you guys exist on having people together in a space and share, but opportunities like this have also come up. So are there occasional silver linings to this that you're discovering?
Speaker 2: 06:07 Oh, absolutely. I think it has been a silver lining because I've always felt that the regional theaters were basically factories that were just on automatic. I wasn't very happy with the institutions of theater overall in America. I think it was kind of a cookie cutting, uh, process. Uh, the challenging work was always seen in the small theaters, but the minute you got to bigger theaters, you know, the work changed because of economics. And I just think that's a, that's a shame. I think black lives matter. The pandemic and black lives matter have also shown us that we were re very much behind in equity and equality in the theater. It also showed us that the power structure of the regional theater was probably primarily white. And so these are things that aren't facts, you know, I'm not, I'm not, I'm not making it up. These are facts and these are problems that have to be resolved.
Speaker 2: 07:03 And I think, uh, this pause has been really very, um, beneficial for a lot of theaters to, to sit back and say, what are we lacking? Are we really, uh, lacking representation here? And the answer's probably yes. And so now's the time to, to recover and try to make things better. Now the rep, the rep has always has always been, um, good about, uh, showing, uh, plays by people of color writers of color, but it can always get, it can always be better. But one thing that the rep is doing this year and I'm going to probably be showcasing. And later after this of almost, uh, after this series is that I want to, um, I want to highlight how much the rep is, uh, investing in, in developing new work by people of color.
Speaker 1: 07:55 All right. Well, I want to thank you very much for talking about your new,
Speaker 2: 07:59 Thank you.
Speaker 1: 08:01 Amando speaking with San Diego reps, playwright in residence, Herbert sequenza Vamos debuts tonight, and will remain available on the San Diego reps, social media, after a debut.