HillcrestBlog by "San Diego News Service" (619) 757-4909

"San Diego News Service" covers hard news, features and reviews for local and national print media, and maintains, "HillcrestBlog." Address: 3907 Georgia St., #15, San Diego 92103-3548. Our editor is Leo E. Laurence, J.D., Copy Ed.: Martin Brickson. Member: Society of Professional Journalists, Latino Journalists of California. Call news tips to (619) 757-4909 (days), Nights: (619) 220-8686 (fax also). leopowerhere@msn.com Copyright 2008 by San Diego News Service

Monday, October 27, 2008


San Diego -- The clash of power politics between Latinos and gringos is the focus of the powerful stage play WATER & POWER, now playing at the San Diego REPertory Theatre in Horton Plaza through Nov. 16th. The story is an exciting mixture of comedy and serious cultural thinking.

A hard-working Chicano father nicknamed his twin sons Water and Power and taught them the family motto: "There is no power without water, and no water without power." That set up a life-long loyalty between the boys that explodes when they grow up.

Water (Richard Trujillo) becomes a powerful state senator. He seemed to be too young to be an experienced, state legislator.

Power (Herbert Siguenza) becomes a corrupt (cholo) cop in the barrio.

When Power gets into serious trouble for capping (killing) a cholo, who held a contract to "ice" his brother, Water. That sets off a life-and-death drama that threatens to derail the careers of both Water and Power.

Siguenza (Power) is a founding member of Culture Clash, America's premier Latino theatre group that produced this show at the Rep.

"They (Culture Clash) are really, really good," says San Diego realtor Roberto "Tony" Araiza. "They are absolutely awesome!"

Culture Clash was founded in 1984 by Siguenza, Richard Montoya (playwright of Water and Power) and Ric Salinas. Their site-specific theatre works - built from interviews with citizens of San Diego/Tijuana, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C., Miami and Berkeley, are featured in their signature work, Culture Clash in AmeriCCa.

If you are bilingual, you will get the most out of Water and Power. If you don't even know what a cholo is, this may be a difficult play to understand.

"I really didn't understand the story until the end," said Travis Guss, 35, of North Park, an Anglo who works at the Diversionary Theatre.

"The end was the most moving. I've never seen characterizations like that on stage. It was culture clash! The play personalized the L.A. street culture. I really cared for (the two lead characters) at the end," Guss added.

If the audience doesn't understand the story of a play, that can be fatal; but the opening-night crowd was largely a mix of Anglos and Latinos.

A little boy (Marc Gonzales) frequently appeared on the sidelines as "The Deer Dancer," but his purpose wasn't clear from the script.

Some of the dialogue seemed to favor Anglos. For example, the word "hispanic" was used by the characters frequently. That is a white word, and is disliked by many in the barrio. The preferred word is Latino.

There also were too many philosophical/cultural speeches by the actors. People in the barrio don't usually talk that way in general conversation, but the mini-speeches did put out the Latino message.

Physically, the performance was very striking. Near the end of the show, the REP's Artistic Director Sam Woodhouse who ran the show, had it actually raining on all four sides of the theatre-in-the-round during the play. And, none of the audience got wet - an incredible, technical feat.

One totally off-script line was injected into the show near the end of the performance. When a middle-aged woman in bare feet walked out, passing the stage only inches away, the actor suddenly broke from his script and said to her: "Hey, you might want to stay for this. It's really good."

That off-script line brought the house down. It was the loudest and longest laughter of the night.

Several free, surround events are also scheduled in connection with Water and Power.

Wed., Oct. 29 and Fri. Oct. 31, following the show: a revealing and unpredictable conversation with the cast, and hosted by Centro Cultural de la Raza.

What's the difference between Gringo and Latino Power? Thurs., Oct. 30 @ 7pm. A conversation with the cast.

Sun, Nov. 2nd, San Diego's First Latino Mayor."

Wed., Nov. 5th @ 6pm: downtowners@the REP.

Thurs., Nov. 6th @ 7 pm: mingle@the REP.: Pre-show happy hour with live music by Nisha.

Contact the theatre for more information about these additional events connected with Water and Power. (http://www.sdrep.org/)

Review copyright 2008 by San Diego News Service, leopowerhere@msn.com (619) 757-4909


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