Campus: CSU Northridge -- March 15, 2004
Culture Clash Donates Personal Library Chronicling
the Troupe's 20-Year History to Cal State Northridge
Members of the nationally acclaimed Chicano-Latino comedy/performance
troupe Culture Clash have donated to Cal State Northridge the papers,
art work and other items that chronicle the group’s 20-year history.
The collection from troupe members Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas, and
Herbert Sigüenza—which includes drafts of scripts (some never
performed), notes, posters, playbills and art work—will become
part of the Urban Archives in the university’s Oviatt Library.
Highlights from the collection will be displayed in a small exhibition
scheduled to open in the library on May 5.
“We are honored to become the archival home for a unique voice
in theatre,” said Susan C. Curzon, dean of the university’s
library. “Their powerful portrait of life will fascinate researchers
for years to come. Culture Clash is a California treasure.”
Sigüenza said the trio chose Northridge to house their archives
because of the university’s strong Chicano and Central American
studies programs, and singled out Chicano studies professor Rodolfo
Acuña in particular.
“We respect the university,” Sigüenza said. “We
think a lot of Rudy Acuña and the Chicano Studies Department
and CSUN was one of the first universities to have Central American
studies. We have a good rapport there.”
Acuña, who has taught at the university for more than 30 years,
helped found the Chicano Studies department at Cal State Northridge,
which is believed to be the oldest such program of its kind in the nation.
His first book, Occupied America, now in its fifth edition, is used
by universities and colleges across the country. He dismissed any singling
out by the troupe.
“We’re all honored, the whole community is honored by this
wonderful gift,” Acuña said. ”I think they are one
of the most noted groups in the area. I really respect them. They have
tried to put our history into a popular context.”
Archivists Robert G. Marshall and Rebecca S. Graff, who are working
on the collection, said that Sigüenza, Montoya and Salinas have
promised to continue contributing to the archives as the troupe continues
to perform and create new material.
“The past 20 years have been the building blocks. I think America
has yet to see the best of Culture Clash,” Sigüenza said,
pointing out that the trio is currently working on a television show.
The group previously starred in one in the 1990s on the Fox Television
Network, “Fox Television’s ‘Culture Clash.’”
The group, originally called Comedy Fiesta, was started 20 years ago
in the Mission District of San Francisco by Montoya, a spoken-word poet;
Salinas, a breakdancer and bilingual rapper; and Sigüenza, who
had trained as a visual artist. Original members also included Marga
Gómez, Monica Palacios and José Antonio Burciaga.
Culture Clash’s brand of Latino comedic theater, which combines
humor with social critique, has drawn acclaim from across the country.
It has performed at such venues as the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center
and the Mark Taper Forum, where last year it performed the well-reviewed
The troupe’s best known plays include The Mission (1998), A Bowl
of Beings (1991), S.O.S.—Comedy for These Urgent Times (1992,
written in response to the Los Angeles riots), Carpa Clash (1993), Radio
Mambo: Culture Clash Invades Miami (1994), and Bordertown (1998).
The trio is currently working on the manuscript for Frank Loesser’s
“lost” musical, Señor Discretion Himself, at the
Arena State in Washington D.C. It opens April 15.
The Culture Clash collection is being inventoried, processed and preserved
under the auspices of a five-year $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department
of Education to bolster student success by strengthening the Oviatt
Library’s outreach to the Latino community.
The grant, which was awarded by the Department of Education’s
Title V Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program, will make the Culture
Clash collection available to students, faculty and the community for
research purposes. The collection, parts of which will be included in
the library’s Latino Cultural Heritage Digital Archives, will
be open to researchers next year.
The Oviatt Library is home to more than one million volumes, three million
microfilms, 125,000 government publications, 7,798 periodical titles
and an extensive historical collection of mixed media, rare books and
archives. It serves as the main research facility in the San Fernando
Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130, email@example.com