Category Archive for: ‘Gaetana Caldwell-Smith’

NOGALES, by Richard Montoya, directed by Sean San Jose

Richard Montoya spouts rapid-fire venom as Sheriff Joe Arpaio in “Nogales” while Eliana López looks on.

Richard Montoya spouts rapid-fire venom as Sheriff Joe Arpaio in “Nogales” while Eliana López looks on.

SF City Review by Gaetana Caldwell- Smith

Show runs through October 30


Tonight, Saturday, 10/29, 8 PM is your last opportunity to see “Nogales” (Sunday’s 2:30 matinee is all sold out!).   “Nogales” is a wonderful, unique and powerful play by Culture Clash founder, Richard Montoya.  It deals with the true-life shooting of fifteen-year-old Jose Antonio, on the Mexican side by a US Border Patrol officer who shot him from the US.  Set in the border town of Nogales, a small village nestled on the side of a portion of the notorious “wall” that has been built thus far.  According to the Magic Theatre’s Artistic Director, Loretta Greco’s, program notes: “It is no accident that we’ve scheduled Nogales in the frenzied final month of a presidential election year – what better place to wrestle with borders than with a community of theater  just days away from heading to the polls.”  She goes on to write: “At this very troubling moment in time, through the rich tradition of theater of testimony, [“Nogales”] joyfully and spiritually mixes music, dance, traditional storytelling, spoken word, video, installation, and ritual  . . .to inform supersized satiric storytelling.”

Richard Montoya does a masterful portrayal of real-life Arizona’s Maricopa County’s Sheriff Arpaio, a strong proponent for the wall and the militarization of the border patrol.  Montoya had visited Nogales before the wall and says that one could easily walk across and back.  For the role, he and director San Jose had interviewed Arpaio and found him avuncular, funny, and surprising in that they felt he was a guy you could have a drink with.  Montoya confessed that he was disturbed by how much he had in common with him, but will always detest him for his draconian policies towards undocumented immigrants and the unfortunates who end up in his prisons.

Montoya’s Arpaio is one of the best reasons you don’t want to miss this show.  His delivery is rat-tat-tat as he tosses in current pop and political references off-the-wall, so to speak, moving about Tanya Orellana’s colorful  imaginative Southwestern set based on Arpaio’s office, complete with the sheriff’s proclivity for collecting antiques, kitsch, and Mexican and Southwestern artifacts, including a gift of a Native American drum.  Upstage is a magical lit-from-within, three-dimensional diorama depicting the ancient adobe pueblo of Nogales.

Director Sean San Jose put on his actor hat to effectively play an investigative reporter as well as a priest.  Lovely Eliane Lopez (“El Scandalo”) portray the victim’s abuela as well as one of Arpaio’s deputies in Stetson, boots, and badge.    Sound Designer and actor Juan Amador (lately as an absent father in Rough Readings staged reading of Liss Ramirez’s “All Fall Down”) also portrays dual roles, one as a deputy.  Carla Pantoja, Laura Espino, and Stephen Narcho in dual roles, round out the ensemble cast.

The play runs 90 minutes with no intermission.  At the final curtain, the audience is invited on stage to look-but-don’t-touch the set and diorama.




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