Ok, you know how on light boards, there’s a button which just makes all the lights drop to black, like instantly? What is the name of that button? (And no, it’s not “blackout”, it has a special name, and I can’t remember it.).
Working on El Paso (Viva!). Trying to figure out how to tell the story, basically which is: Viva El Paso!, which purports to communicate the violent, turbulent history of El Paso through the song and dance of its ruling cultures, should be a really, really bad idea.
And yet somehow, Viva El Paso! was wonderful–in a complicated way, touching on: the uses of theater in a low-income urban community, to provide both employment and performance opportunities for local dancers/performers who wouldn’t have the chance otherwise, and; being a mechanism by which to improve community self-image.
Hector Serrano, Artistic Director at the time, said this great thing how he feels that the city was finally starting to see the arts as a quality of life issue (great phrase!). As sheer silly spectacle–the singing, the dancing, the horses, the jokes–the performance really really worked.
But in ways, it still is a bad idea, in terms of the manner in which it re-writes El Paso’s bloody history (and present) in order to provide this uncomplicated, enjoyable spectacle.
It’s both at the same time. And still provided one of the most powerful moments I’d ever experienced in a theater (see next).