Culture Clash Premieres “SAPO,” based on Aristophanes’ “The Frogs” at The Getty Villa
Culture Clash is a California classic. A group of actors driven by a collective ethos of truth, comedy and the retelling of ancient yet extremely relevant stories of power, broken societies, poetry and desperation. All told with a hilariously satirical edge and a nod to our own present American chaos.
This “SAPO” play is based on Aristophanes’ “The Frogs,” written when Athens was crumbling under the strain of war – decades long, it’s politics in flames and culture and opinion more polarized than ever before – seem familiar? In the original play, a god, Dionysus, and his slave Xavier, travel to the underworld to retrieve a long-dead poet to bring peace to the world. So not much has changed in a couple of thousand years. What poet can we awaken?
Dionysus, along with his trusty ‘cholo’ slave Xavier, hook up with a hippy Frisco band and their coked up manager heading to “HELL A” for a meet up with a big ‘producer.’ The band is played by the phenomenal Buyepongo, L.A.’s premier hybridizers of latin/jazz/hip-hop/funk, a well raucous orchestra.
Together they journey in the “tour bus to hell.” This journey gives many an excuse to skewer, to lament, to torment and to proselytize. Mostly at the thoroughly justified expense of the current administration – brilliant!
The center of this tale, perhaps the reason for its existence in its present form, is a man and his young daughter camping out on the beach. What at first seems like a weekend excursion is quickly revealed to be their current situation and, although the father tries his best to protect his daughter from the perils of their plight, she is far too smart to be fooled and far too brilliant to be lost between the cracks of the tragic “Dreamers” debacle.
This is a complicated play, full of twists and turns and unresolved issues and broken promises. It quite brilliantly and poetically shows us, through the lens of all our crazy realities, how real the dangers are. The danger of deportation, the danger of exploitation, the danger of death and, for those of us in the safety of our seats, the very real danger for us to lose our souls if we should choose to do nothing but watch it all unfurl.
There’s a lot going on, but it’s far from overwhelming. It’s inspired. There are some truly brilliant comical moments, if you are an NPR fan, as am I. You will roar with laughter over a Michael Silverblatt Book Worm extravaganza…perfection! Through the wonderful performances, the heartfelt and exquisite writing and the raw power of the talent on the stage, “SAPO” left me quite breathless with delight. It also left me deeply touched, moved and hopeful, in spite of what seems to be stacked odds. There are so many of us that are motivated by what is going on in our world, indeed in our very city, to do something. To speak out, to create, to shout out and to give thanks to people like “SAPO” and their fierce and talented group of players who make us proud and give us strength and inspiration and hope. Bravo!!!
I highly recommend that you see this truly exceptional play. The beautiful surroundings of The Getty Villa are perfectly in keeping with the artistry on stage.
It isn’t a long run, February 18th is the final night, so don’t hang about!!! Get your tickets here:
Written by Culture Clash
Directed by Sean San Jose
Running from Friday, February 2, 9, 16, 2018 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 3, 10, 17, 2018 at 4:00 and 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 4, 11, 18, 2018 at 4:00 p.m.
Vaneza Mari Calderón
Sean San Jose
Buyepongo as El Sapo:
Lighting Design – Richard Montoya
Scenic Design – Tanya Orellana
Sound Design – Ric Salinas
Costume Design – Benita Elliott
Projection Design – Yee Eun Nam
Musical Director – Michael Roth
Stage Manager – Giselle Vega