In Exile Close to the Equator By Jose Torres Tama

In Exile Close to the Equator By Jose Torres Tama


ChickenBones: A Journal

for  Literary & Artistic African-American  Themes



 With the intensity of an urban warrior and at channel-surfing speed, performance artist Jose Torres Tama moves

from poetic drama to the hilariously absurd in “IN EXILE,”  exploring the immigrant

 experience, rites-of-passage in urban gang culture, and his search for the American Dream. 







FROM AUG AUG. 29 – SEPT. 1, 2002


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Play & Performance

“IN EXILE CLOSE TO THE EQUATOR” was first presented in the New York area by Pregones Theater in the Bronx as part of their 20th Anniversary Season in May of 2000. Since then, the piece has been presented by Tigertail Productions in Miami; the New Genre Performance Festival in Tulsa, OK; State University of New York at Geneseo; Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA; the Walker’s Point Center for the Arts in Milwaukee; and the Alternate ROOTS Conference in North Carolina.

With the intensity of an urban warrior and at channel-surfing speed, performance artist Jose Torres Tama moves from poetic drama to the hilariously absurd in “IN EXILE,” exploring the immigrant experience, rites-of-passage in urban gang culture, and his search for the American Dream.  While his point of departure is the mythology of the personal journey, he also comments on universal themes such as the struggle between good and evil, the spiritual search in a consumer society and whether to wage one’s battle with the pen or the sword.  He inventively fuses bilingual prose, ritualistic movement, incantations and multiple voices to create a verbal and visual performance collage, offering an emotional roller coaster ride that is personal, politically charged and loaded with sardonic humor.


Jose Torres Tama Bio


ose Torres Tama was born in Ecuador, South America and raised in New Jersey and New York. Since 1984, he has been living in New Orleans, a place he describes as his “spiritual home.” He is a performance artist, bilingual poet, and visual and installation artist, exploring racial issues and the effects of media on the diverse cultures of the U.S.

His achievements are as varied as the disciplines he works in. He is a recent recipient of a 1998-99 Theatre Fellowship awarded to him by the Louisiana Division of the Arts. Also, he received an award from the National Endowment for the Arts for the development of a new performance entitled $CASINOAMERICA$. In addition, the Arts Council of New Orleans awarded him a grant for We Are Patriots With Dark Faces, a satirical drama which he has toured throughout the country and in parts of Mexico and Canada.

Patriots has received national acclaim, and the Village Voice has said that Torres Tama “treads that dangerously vague turf of performance art gracefully.” His touring success has led the Louisiana Division of the Arts to recently select him as one of the top ten performing artists in the state. He is also the recipient of a 1998 Applauso Award from Aqui: New Orleans, a bilingual newspaper, as recognition for his contributions as a Latino artist.

While on tour, his performance of Patriots at Performance Space 122 in New York City was filmed and presented on Manhattan Cable Access as a part of a series called Alive and Kicking from P.S. 122, produced by video artist Charles Dennis. In New Orleans, two documentaries of his work have been produced by the Ecos Latinos Television Series

Jose Torres Tama has been touring across the country over the past seven years and his various solo shows have been enthusiastically received by audiences and critics alike.  His performances thrive on a fusion of spoken word prose, bilingual poetry, incantations, rituals of fire, symbolic movement, and exaggerated personae, creating spectacles that are visually dynamic and politically charged.  Add to this cauldron a heady dose of hilariously absurd observations on consumer culture and you have a unique vision coming from a New Jersey/New York bred Ecuadorian-born brujo performance poet based in New Orleans. 

 As an arts educator, he is dedicated to working in minority communities with Latino and African American teens through his “Youth Performance Projects” that introduce performance art and poetry as a means of self-empowerment. Through these extended residency projects, he guides the young participants in the creation of an original ensemble performance piece based on their personal stories and writings to explore issues of identity in relationship to American media and pop culture.  A recent project was developed in Houston with teens from a local homeless shelter.  These projects have been profiled on National Public Radio and supported through grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Performance Network, and the Philip Morris Foundation.

 In addition, he is a contributing editor to “ART PAPERS,” a national arts magazine published in Atlanta for which he writes a column on performance art and politics, and he has written for the Chicago “New Art Examiner,” “The Mexico City Times,” and “Urban Latino” Magazine published in New York.

Visit http://www.TORRESTAMA.COM to learn more about his youth performance programs, lectures, and published essays.

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New Orleans Free People of Color & Their Legacy: The Artwork of Jose Torres-Tama

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Hopes and Prospects

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

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Ancient African Nations

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Related files: In Exile  Above America  God Fear America  Stars Are Eyes    In Exile Close to the Equator  Hard Living in the Big Easy

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