• Print


Photo: Craig Morse

José Torres-Tama

Immigrant Dreams & Alien Nightmares

Ecuadorian-born José Torres-Tama is an NEA award recipient for his interdisciplinary performances and a Louisiana Theater Fellow. As a writer, performer and visual artist, he explores the underbelly of the American Dream mythology and the Latino immigrant experience. Since 1995, he has toured his genre-bending solos nationally and internationally.

Internationally, he has performed at Roehampton University and Live Art Development in London; the Bluecoat Arts Centre in Liverpool; the Centre for Performance Research in Aberystwyth, Wales; the Castle of the Imagination Performance Festival in Poland, the International Performance Festival in Maribor, Slovenia; and the Performance Festival at X-Teresa Arte Alternativo in Mexico City.

Nationally, his work has been presented at Performance Space 122, Theater for the New City, and the famed Nuyorican Poets Café, all in New York City; Highways Performance Space in Los Angeles; The National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque; DiverseWorks in Houston; and the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans. In the academy, Duke, Cornell, Vanderbilt, Tulane, LSU, University of Ohio, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and others have presented his shows and lectures on art as a tool for social change.

In 2013, he received his second National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Award to develop the ALIENS Taco Truck Theater Project, whereby he will transform a used food vehicle into a mobile stage to reach non-traditional theater audiences. In 2009, the NPN awarded him his first Creation Fund for ALIENS, IMMIGRANTS & OTHER EVILDOERS, his sci-fi Latino noir solo that explores the persecution of Latino immigrants across the land of the free.

In the visual arts, the Joan Mitchell Foundation in New York awarded him and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans the publication funds for his first art book titled New Orleans Free People of Color & Their Legacy. Published by the Ogden in 2009, the book documents the series of expressionistic pastel portraits on paper Torres-Tama developed to celebrate 18th and 19th century Creoles of color, who were born into freedom during the Slave era and were mixed with French, Spanish, and African races of Colonial New Orleans.

The University of Lafayette Press is working with him for the publishing of Hard Living in the Big Easy: Latinos & the Post-Katrina Reconstruction of New Orleans. As an educator, he teaches visual arts through the Ogden Museum in New Orleans. Since 2006, he has contributed commentaries to National Public Radio’s Latino USA, exploring the many challenges of the epic recovery and difficulties immigrant workers have faced in helping to rebuild New Orleans. His writings have been published by the PBS Blog in conjunction with the Latino Americans documentary that aired nationally in the fall of 2013, the TCG Blog, and Howlround Theatre Journal to name a few.

His poetry has been published in Andrei Codrescu’s Exquisite Corpse – A Journal of Letters and Life; the Double Dealer Literary Journal of the Faulkner Society of New Orleans; Black Magnolias published out of Jackson State University in Mississippi; and two anthologies of New Orleans poets, Words of Fire by Think Tank Press, and From A Bend in The River, edited by Kalamu ya Salaam.


Author's website, torrestama.com


Excerpt from "ALIENS, IMMIGRANTS & OTHER EVILDOERS," A Sci-fi Latino Noir Performance Exploring Immigration

"The Cone of Uncertainty: New Orleans After Katrina" Performance Ritual Exploring the Abandonment of a People


Los Angeles Theater Center 
for Encuentro National Latina/o Theater Festival

Gambit Weekly Review: New Orleans Free People of Color Exhibit

The Advocate New Orleans: Free People of Color Portraits 
by José Torres-Tama at Le Musée

PBS Blog: Hard Living in the Big Easy: Latino Immigrants & the Recovery of Post-Katrina New Orleans 

PBS Blog: Because the Dream Knows More than You

TCG Blog: The Politics of Inclusion 

Pelican Bomb: State of Affairs Interview with José Torres-Tama

Tulsa Eñe: Interview En Español

The Advocate Arts Feature: No Guacamole for Immigrant Haters

Public Radio Tulsa: Chat with Performance Artist José Torres-Tama

NPR'S LATINO USA Commentary by José Torres-Tama: Los Invisibles

NOLA.com: Exhibit focuses on Latin American workers in New Orleans