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Town Hall

by Caridad Svich

directed by Cambria Herrera

 

Performance Dates

February 18th, 19th, and 20th @ 7:30pm PST

 

Method of Presentation and Ticketing

TBA

 

 

The Cast

A: Taiwo Sokan
B: Leovina Charles
E: Natalia Quintero-Riestra
S: Sabrina Liu

  

The Creative Team

Director: Cambria Herrera
Primary Stage Manager: Allison Bailey
Assistant Stage Manager: Jared Halsell
Assistant Stage Manager: Valeria Avina
Scenic Designer: Michael Wogulis
Sound Designer: Salvador Zamora
Lighting Designer: Harrison Foster
Costume Designer: Zoë Amaris

 

About the Play

Town Hall is simultaneously an epic exploration and a plain old room to gather. Four actors playing searching characters, or maybe just themselves, guide us in dreaming...  From the comfort of our own living rooms, the performers offer us brutally honest conversation, memories of joy, secrets of shame, challenging questions, and their heart songs to reimagine how we behave in the theatre and the world. During a pandemic, can we even acknowledge all the suffering occurring around the world? If we try, do we have any belief left in us to imagine a brighter future? Can we still dream? Can we begin to form a plan for a better world? Town Hall questions how we are “us” and how we can move forward after all that’s happened.

 

About the Playwright

As a playwright, songwriter, editor and translator living between many cultures, including inherited ones, the idea of departure has always been not only an actual or metaphorical basis for writing the work, but also an idea made manifest through the enactment of writing, its performance, and my living of it. Born in the US of Cuban-Argentine-Spanish-Croatian parents, I have felt in a strange kind of exile even while growing up as an “American.” This sense of dislocation extends to the fact that as a child and adolescent, I lived in several states: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, North Carolina, Utah, New York, and California, not to mention many cross-country road trips in between. The nomadic strain was thus instilled in me and has become an inevitable part of my writing vision. Explorations of wanderlust, dispossession, biculturalism, bilingualism, construction of identity, and the many different emotional terrains that can be inhabited onstage form the basis of my plays and other writing projects. Visions of migration (both physical and spiritual) dominate the plays, which have become, in turn, documents of internal diasporas.As a playwright, songwriter, editor and translator living between many cultures, including inherited ones, the idea of departure has always been not only an actual or metaphorical basis for writing the work.

~Caridad Svich in “Visions of Migration” Performance Research

Read the July/August 2009 American Theatre  cover story “Cartography Lessons with Caridad Svich “

 

Director's Statement

We are a world surviving a pandemic, a world where even kindergarteners are expected to wear a mask, properly wash their hands, stay six feet away from their friends, and log on to “online school” as their contribution to the common good. Our world is one where adults who break into a home and murder a Black woman in her sleep can face little to no consequences for what some call a “mistake” and others call “murder”. Admittedly, it is difficult to make sense of our world.

We are experiencing a health crisis that has affected every level of our society: work, economics, communication, gatherings, and entertainment to name a few. Given what I’ve witnessed and my experience with genocide, racial violence, homophobia, and sexism, I can no longer be caught in a cycle of oppression and countering oppression. I must acknowledge and heal the oppressed within myself and search for a new way of navigating the world. Town Hall was created from Svich imagining a new way of existing and storytelling. For both, she demands collective participation.

Town Hall exists exactly in our world with performers who blur the line between character and actor. Svich challenges the standard form of playwriting by involving the audience as a participant in a very open-ended conversation. This play is soul work. It requires a presence of spirit from actors and audience to overturn the norm we’re used to in theatre of producing and consuming. The cast will bring their own experiences, coping mechanisms, and healing practices for surviving a pandemic to the work. Even though health orders have forced us to isolate, we are not alone, we are actually all in this together as a society. We all affect the world order and all involved will affect the experience of Town Hall produced by UCSD.

Can we acknowledge all the suffering in our world? When we do, do we have any belief left in us to imagine a better way? Can we still dream? Can we begin to form plans for a better world?
While these questions are huge, the way we’ll approach them is intimate. While this is a political drama, I’m not expecting it to produce a political response. This play won’t make anyone call their district representatives with their ideas for a better world. Instead, it will plant “seeds of spiritual or emotive change” as Svich calls them.

Living in this world truly hurts, but we’re all still here because we believe in something. If we dare to actually listen to our world and each other, then dare to dream of a better world, and then act on those dreams for a world with true caring and fairness, we could create a better world together. Four performers will break down this huge idea for us from their respective homes. They’ll lead us through brutally honest conversation, memories of joy, secrets of shame, challenging questions, and their heart songs to reimagine how we behave in the theatre and the world.