Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Vanderbilt University Presents Aliens, Immigrants, & Other Evildoers

By Cindy McCain

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage month, Great Performances at Vanderbilt opens its On the SIDE Series with Latino performance artist and National Public Radio commentator, José Torres-Tama, and his bilingual production Aliens, Immigrants, & Other Evildoers Wednesday, October 5 at 7:30 PM at the Student Life Center (

Residing in New Orleans, Ecuadorian José Torres-Tama lives by his mantra to "make art that matters." Before his Sci-Fi Latino Noir multimedia performance, he was curator of Los Invisibles: Latino Immigrants Who Rebuilt New Orleans, an exhibit of photographs documenting the enormous contribution of Hispanics in turning the tide after Katrina. He told Doug MacCash, The Times-Picayune :

We have a people here who have been ubiquitous, but have been rendered invisible because of the undocumented status of most. Whatever pain and suffering they may have endured goes practically unnoticed because of their alien immigrant station.

In Aliens, his characters are more than invisible. With biting satire he reveals their exploitation and victimization by hate crimes. For the production funded by The National Performance Network, Torres-Tama filmed interviews with Latino immigrants not only in New Orleans but also in Houston and Washington, DC.  The performance will contain “adult language” hard to hear and gritty and graphic situations hard to see. Yet Brenda Murphy of Jambalaya News said of a March showing  in NOLA: “For 90 minutes the audience…mostly Latinos from different social classes, remained riveted.”

Facing the music in Music City Torres-Tama style will mean looking at a flawed immigration system and defining the American Dream. Bridgette Kohnhorst, Director and Curator of Great Performances at Vanderbilt, said of the artist-in- residency:
Jose Torres-Tama introduces Social Justice theatre directly for Great Performances on a platform that is more likened to Fringe Festival performance art. I really think
theatre like no other form is a vehicle that can further important civic conversations for current issues. The form embodies the specifics of the political topic, in this case immigration.

Other Residency activities include a Multimedia Lecture, Aliens Are Coming, presented Monday Oct., 3 at 4:30 at the Ingram Studio Arts Center, . And on Tuesday, October 4, an important UNPLUGGED PERFORMANCE of Aliens, Immigrants, and Other Evildoers, will be given at noon at Nashville’s Global Education Center,
sponsored with Conexión Americas and Vanderbilt Center for Latin American Studies. Both residency activities are free.

Single tickets are on sale and range from $30 to $40. Vanderbilt students and staff receive discounted rates. Tickets for non-Vanderbilt students are $10 with identification at Ticketmaster outlets and at the Sarratt box office. Call (615) 322-2471 for season details or visit:

Co-sponsored by Vanderbilt Center for Latin Studies and Conexión Americas with funding in part by Alternate ROOTS and the Ford Foundation through the ROOTS Tour & Residency Program.

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