I had always heard of the theatre group Culture Clash from SF, but had never had the opportunity to see them. I was even more intrigued since I learned that one of the actors was Jose Montoya's son, Richard Montoya. The opportunity finally came about a week ago when I visited Houston for the first time. It was the closing weekend for their new production Americca and I was lucky to catch a matinee on Sunday.

Culture Clash Photo 

Their use of humor captivated me. I thought the actors did a great job, considering the limitations of time and the amount of characters each personified. They poked fun at every single stereotype I could possibly think of that day. I laughed even harder when they impersonated a middle aged Salvadorean man. He spoke of his neighborhood and his family, of how many Salvadoreans are distrustful and prejudice of Black people, yet he managed to save grace by finding humor in the fact that their foods are very similar [fried chicken and chicharrones] and that they are also very family oriented. This reminde me of my family. My cousin Marina, the oldest of my generation married a Black man, and you could say that this represented an initial culture clash for their families, but love and time have given way to acceptance in our family. And now many of my cousins have gorgeous bilingual and bicultural children.

I also loved the first character Mohammed who discussed the anti-Arab prejudice that has occurred post-9/11. He talked about his fear, yet he spoke with tenderness about his love for America and his desire to feel American and to belong. Culture Clash also made a special effort to include difficult topics like Hurrican Katrina displacement by questioning the term refugee, this particular skit was especially well recieved by the Houston audience who welcomed hurricane victims with open arms during those difficult times and witnessed their pain and suffering.

Overall, I was very impressed by their work. Twenty years of being on the road, play after play, and defying the status quo. Their work is critical, contemporary and relevant to anyone who wants to understand American culture and all of its complexities.