¡BIENVENIDOS BLANCOS! or WELCOME WHITE PEOPLE!
Alex Torra & Team Sunshine Performance Corporation
Saturday, April 28
¡Bienvenidos! Welcome! What a pleasure! Please come in.
Slap some suntan lotion onto that pale white skin and press those little piggies into the soft white sand. Take in the Tropicana ladies with their sultry caderas (translation: “hips!”) and feel the exotic lure of that Afro-drumbeat bouncing off the tops of swaying palm trees. Our translators are ready, and the soldiers have been paid off. Don’t look over there, that’s just a long history of exploitation.
Can we offer you a top-up on that mojito?
Cuban and American history converge in this original play exploring cultural exploitation, race, embargoes, conquistadores, and the relationship between two countries that are really, really close together.
Led by Cuban-American director Alex Torra, and created by an International Cast including real Cubans from actual Cuba, imported legally via airplane.¡BIENVENIDOS BLANCOS! or WELCOME WHITE PEOPLE! is a bilingual theater performance. Spanish and English speakers alike will enjoy the full experience of the play.
Y ahora — ¡en español!
¿Cómo te va? Eso era para los Americanos. Entre tú y yo, ellos no saben que están tomando mojitos aguados….Esta obra examina la manera en que las fuerzas extranjeras han formado la historia cubana. Desde el turista hasta el futuro empresario, muchos de estos extranjeros han sido de países “blancos,” seducidos por el delirio de una isla caribeña; es decir, seducidos por Cuba. Sus deseos y manos toquetonas han tenido un papel en la formación de la identidad cubana y de una cultura bella, pero a la misma vez, dolorosa. Realizado en español con supertítulos en ingles.
AfroTaíno Productions has gathered a powerhouse ensemble of Afro-Cuban Rumba performers to be the opening act of each performance of ¡BIENVENIDOS BLANCOS! or WELCOME WHITE PEOPLE! The ensemble is made up of performers who are all recognized and respected within the Rumba circuit spanning from NYC to Miami to Cuba. Rumba is an Afro-Cuban percussive style of music and dance with an emphasis on community participation.
Director/Lead Artist Alex Torra Assistant Director Cheryl Zaldívar Jiménez Choreographer Makoto Hirano Performer/Creators Lori Felipe Barkin, Benjamin Camp, Jorge Enrique Caballero Elizarde, Jenna Horton, Idalmis Garcia Rodriguez Set Designer Efren Delgadillo, Jr. Costume Designer Fabian Aguilar Lighting Designer Oona Curley Sound Designer Anthony Martinez-Briggs Props Designer Alicia Crosby
*The shows on Apr 18 & Apr 19 are preview performances.
$20 general / $14 members (preview performances)
$29 general / $20.30 members
$15 student & 25-and-under
Major support for ¡BIENVENIDOS BLANCOS! OR WELCOME WHITE PEOPLE! has been provided to Alex Torra by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from the Wyncote Foundation, the Network of Ensemble Theaters, and the Puffin Foundation, as well as the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Southwest Airlines, and the Surdna Foundation through a grant from the NALAC Fund for the Arts Grant Program.
Preview our interview with Alex Torra. Full interview is now available on the FringeArts Blog!
FringeArts: Where did the title ¡BIENVENIDOS BLANCOS! OR WELCOME WHITE PEOPLE! arise from?
Alex Torra: Back in 2015, I had an opportunity to travel to Cuba for the first time. It was a super intense and difficult trip for me – for many Cuban-Americans, we only understand Cuba through the things our parents tell us and from photos or videos. To see it with your own eyes is a whole different experience.
I was really taken aback by how many of my interactions were tourism-based, and how much of the culture I was seeing was focused on getting (at that time) white tourists to have a great time and spend money. I kept having the strangest sensation – that Cuba was selling itself. I saw this phrase “Rentar Una Fantasia” on the back of a taxi. It clobbered me. Cuba has opened its doors to tourists, and now, tourism serves as one of the largest sources of revenue for the country. Cuba openly caters to tourists, and especially tourists from wealthy majority-white nations, to come and partake of the island and culture. It’s for the sake of survival, for sure, but it makes me deeply uncomfortable.
FringeArts: Who are the artists you’re collaborating with?
Alex Torra: The team includes Jorge Caballero, a Havana-based actor; Idalmis Garcia, a NYC-based actor who grew up in Cuba and came to the US about 4 years ago (a Cuban in transition); and Cheryl Zaldívar, our Havana-based assistant director. Also in the cast are Lori Felipe Barkin, a Cuban-American who was born in South Florida, and Benjamin Camp and Jenna Horton, two white Americans. It’s interesting how, with this group, you have the full spectrum of Cuban to American, the full spectrum of the Cuban-American experience.
FringeArts: What made it important for you that the piece be performed in Spanish?
Alex Torra: Well, there is no Spanish-language experimental theatre in Philadelphia. There isn’t much Spanish-language theatre at all, and I think that reveals that the dominant cultural dialogue is literally monolingual. That feels like a real crime to me, someone whose life has been experienced in two languages. Spanish is also such a huge part of my relationship with my Cubanness, and it’s also a place of tremendous discomfort for me. I am fluent… to a point. I don’t follow other Spanish speakers all the time and I have trouble with vocabulary and the communication of complicated thought. It’s a vulnerable place for me, so it felt like a smart choice to lean in to that.