Richard Montoya of Culture Clash collaborates with Intersection for the Arts resident theater company Campo Santo, and its co-founder Sean San José, to create The River. The play is part of Montoya’s larger series, “The Border Series”, that explores themes of identity, California and its people, and the many types of borders they encounter and cross.
The River unites Montoya and San José, two of California's most renowned and prolific artists, to tell a homeland tale that reflects their experiences and the experiences of the people who make up their families, their communities. The story’s geographic reflection ties our state together through the journeys that make us all connected. Through their very personal lenses, Montoya and San José create a tale of beautifully fraught tension that reflects how socially, culturally, and economically diverse we are as the people of California.
The River carries us along its trail through the personal stories of California’s diverse citizens: "undocumented", hipsters, immigrants, families, outcasts, desperados. The New River, a toxic waterway that winds by the towns along the border connecting southeast California and Mexico, forms the backdrop for intertwined stories of diverse cultures morphing, land monopolies, the Mexican Diaspora, the American Dream, a way station, a landing point, a current wasteland and a former oasis – themes that inform our view of life in all of our cities.: Through his unique gift for telling stories that combine sadness and humor, Montoya invites us to laugh as we consider our hedonism and longings rooted in our sense of loss. The River is a wild, fun, ecstatic trip; a vision quest that slips easily and often across the border between mourning and hilarity.
Richard Montoya is a co-founder of the legendary performance trio known as Culture Clash which began in San Francisco's Mission District in 1984. The collective created plays for small and local venues including La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley California and the Gilroy Garlic Festival; and for national stages such as the Arena Stage in DC, Seattle Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, Goodman Theater, Yale Rep, Mark Taper Forum, the Public Theater, and the Lincoln and Kennedy Centers. As a solo writer Montoya wrote Water & Power (LA Drama Critics’ Circle Play of the Year 2007), Palestine New Mexico, Anthems and American Night: The Ballad of Juan José. American Night will be performed by the California Shakespeare Theater in a May, 2013 production featuring San José in the lead role. Montoya, an alumnus of the Sundance Institute's Writers and Directors Labs, also wrote and directed Water & Power as a feature film in 2012. He was a staff writer on the first season of Southland for NBC and is writing several new works for theaters across the country.
Sean San José (Director, Co-Creator) is a Director, Writer, Performer and Co-Founder of Campo Santo, Intersection for the Arts resident theater company. Campo Santo is a multicultural theatre company that gives voice to untold stories through socially relevant world premieres of plays created in long-term processes. Since 1996, he has produced and overseen more than 75 premiere productions of theatre, dance and interdisciplinary performances. San José’s body of work spans 45 premiere theatre productions including the first plays by Jimmy Santiago Baca, Jorge Cortinas, Junot Diaz, Dave Eggers, Denis Johnson, Greg Sarris, Luis Saguar, and Vendela Vida. Campo Santo and San José have developed multiple works by Philip Gotanda, Jessica Hagedorn, Naomi Iizuka, Octavio Solis, John Steppling, Erin Cressida Wilson, and others. He was the Creator and Project Director of Alma Delfina Group- Teatro Contra el SIDA (1994-2002) and Pieces of the Quilt-a collection of more than 50 short plays including original works by Rhodessa Jones, Danny Hoch, Edward Albee, Lanford Wilson, Maria Irene Fornes, David Henry Hwang, Craig Lucas, Tony Kushner, Herbert Siguenza, Migdalia Cruz and many more confronting AIDS.
The commissioning and production of this world premiere is made possible by The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation Playwright Collaboration Awards 2009 initiative.