A Performance Troupe Sets an Ancient Greek Play in 1970s California

The Chicano performance troupe Culture Clash is staging a play at the Getty Villa that is loosely based on Aristophanes’s The Frogs.

Culture Clash performing SAPO (photo by Hector Sandoval/Sandoval Media)

Formed on Cinco de Mayo in 1984, in San Francisco’s Mission District, Culture Clash has developed into one of the country’s preeminent Chicano performance troupes. Over the past three decades, the trio — Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas, and Herbert Siguenza — has done everything from sketch comedy to dramatic playwriting, and notably broke barriers with the first Chicano sketch TV-show, which aired on Fox from 1993 to 1996.

As befitting the company’s name, Culture Clash often remixes earlier theatrical works into new hybrid forms, and on several occasions it has found inspiration from the satirical Greek playwright Aristophanes. The troupe’s latest play, SAPO, is loosely based on Aristophanes’s The Frogs, updating its setting from classical Greece to mid-1970s California. The story follows a young Chicano band, El Sapo — played by LA-based Latin/Tropical/Funk fusion band Buyepongo — as they travel from San Francisco to LA in search of success. Written at a time of political and cultural turmoil in Athens, Aristophanes’s words have an unsettling relevance to our contemporary moment, even after two millennia.

When: Friday, February 2–Saturday, February 24 (tickets: $20)
Where: Getty Villa (17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, California)

More info here.

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