Culture Clash Premieres SAPO

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?

sapo 1

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.

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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.

PERFORMERS (alphabetically)

Vaneza Mari Calderón

John Fleck

Seth Milwood

Edgar Modesto

Richard Montoya

Elise Rodriguez

Michael Roth

Ric Salinas

Sean San Jose

Maryjane Santamaria

Andrea Sweeney

Buyepongo as El Sapo:

Edgar Modesto

Randy Modesto

Jorge Vallejo

Angel Hernandez

Eduardo Valencia


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

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros
Author: Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros is a British writer and filmmaker living In Los Angeles.


  1. Saw this play last night and had to walk out early (I gave it until the half-way mark). For being a “comedy,” there sure weren’t a lot of jokes. Just saying buzzwords about immigrants/queer folk/politicians is not enough–they aren’t funny in and of themselves. It was very lazily written, and I can’t believe the Getty would attach itself to something so poorly conceived and executed. The opening scene was mediocre: cheesey in a forced way with no real substance. From there, it did not improve. The Hercules scene was miserable and very cringy–jokes about machismo culture can be funny, but it helps if there are jokes to begin with. It came across as just insulting to women and queer people.

    The lead actor was constantly laughing at his own lines, and his audience interaction was limited to shouting the word “cougar” over and over again. One of his favorite interactions was, “Are you a jaguar or just a cougar?” He thought it was hilarious. IT WAS NOT A JOKE. And what was that cocaine scene? Just overly hyped cocaine use isn’t funny on its own; it was like watching someone beat a dead horse; as if they took a punchline with nothing attached and thought it was genius. I feel that the writers were relying on shock value from start to finish, but it wasn’t even that shocking or crude. It was extremely lazy.

    The only thing that shocked me was that the Getty would attach itself to something so poorly conceived and executed.