Activist, Performance Artist performs at Towson University

MCOM 257-001 Event Speech Story Pic SPRING 2017
An audience of about 150 people await performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña to take stage. Before the performance started, Gómez-Peña’s wife stood on stage selling books, tshirts, etc. (Photo by: Colby Ann Russell/ TU Student).

An audience of about 150 people attended an activist, storyteller performance who discussed disputable topics of the ‘American life’ and current societal issues on Towson University’s campus February 23.

“I definitely felt emotional during the performance,” said Adrienne Wild, a Towson University student. “Trump and his cabinet scare me with their attitudes, viewpoints, and agenda and, while I know it’s important to talk about, it’s scary that we have a president that really does only care about white America.”

Guillermo Gómez-Peña took stage, “An open letter to Donaldo Trumpa,” said Gómez-Peña. “I write to you in English so there won’t be any misunderstandings…”

Much of Gómez-Peña’s performance was directed towards Trump and his cabinet, their plans for America, and desire for a “white America” as well as the American lifestyle: the use (over-use) of technology and the use (over-use) of modern medicine.

Gómez-Peña rattled off numerous U.S. cities extremely fast “…Las Vegas, San Antonio…,” said Gómez-Peña. “And several thousand others…” that would have to be renamed without immigrants/ minorities/other languages, that are neither English, nor American for that matter.

He is questioning the motions towards a “white America” because America is founded on immigrants and multiple cultures, races, religions and intersectionality.

He continued, still in ‘an open letter to Donald Trump’, “…no more… Jlow (Jennifer Lopez), Shakira…piñatas, tequila…,” said Gómez-Peña. “Your fraternities and bars will no longer be able to serve margaritas… there would be no more tacos, ‘no worries’, ‘astalavista’…”

All these things, he said, would not exist or need to be redone or “re-baptized” as American.

“He used the method of poetry to accurately discuss what else has been going on (in the world today),” said Rachel Brown, Art-History major at Towson University. “I think art performance is a very important way to spread information on current events and to get our opinions heard about these current events.”

Before Gómez-Peña came on stage, his wife read a list of trigger warnings, for those who experience “white guilt, … manism, … OCD, germophobia, … or anyone who is in favor of ‘Making America Great again’…”and a long list of others signaling the nature of the rest of the performance. These trigger warnings tied into Gómez-Peña’s performance, and were each touched on in some form or another.

Social media obsession was another trigger warning mentioned, and while Gómez-Peña was speaking he would begin skipping words, mimicking the sound of a broken CD player skipping on a track. Guillermo Gómez-Peña was speaking of technology’s role in America; implying technology/ material items are taking over. He spoke of how technology is also leading to American’s losing ability to hold conversation and civilly discuss important topics such as “political indifferences”.

Gómez-Peña told the audience of his conversation with the ‘Republican Barbie’ and she asked him if his America was red or blue. His response to her was neither, but rather “brown, black, yellow, pink, blue, red…” and continued to name multiple shades of red. There are not just two options, life is not just black and white, and there are many colors and shades.

Still speaking of his past experience with the ‘Republican Barbie’ and their conversation, she continued to make comments on topics she did not know about to Gómez-Peña, which he admitted, naturally made him frustrated. He shared with the audience his frustration and his desire to ask, “Where is Bolivia?,” said Gómez-Peña. “North or South of your ignorance?” This question sparked much of the audience’s attention, leading the audience to snap in agreeance.

His wife returns to give a small performance. “Beeep,” she says. “This is the U.S. Embassy. If you wish to immigrate to America… psssh, let’s be real… to get a student or work visa dial one, wait five years, and prove the amount of money you have… (but), dial 4 to report a missing (American) kid, dial 6 to report an un-American like action…” The priorities set by Trump and the government is out of order, only helping it and not others.

Gómez-Peña asked, “Are you with me? Or are you better off without me?” The audience again snapped to give him affirmation.

Guillermo Gómez-Peña and his wife travel and give similar performances on current social controversial topics.

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