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Culture Clash (Still) in America

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Richard Montoya, Ricardo Salinas, and Herbert Siguenza may not be the postmodern equivalent of  Moe, Larry and Curly — The Three Stoges — they are more topical, politically charged, and not nearly as silly as The Stooges. But the longevity of Culture Clash is closing in on that of The Stooges. The former have been plying their social satire since May 5 (Cinco de Mayo), 1984; the latter group performed their slapstick shenanigans from 1922 until 1970. Nevertheless, Culture Clash’s legacy will surely outdistance that of the mean-spirited, lowbrow mischievousness of The Stooges given the social consciousness that Culture Clash regularly brings to its performance mediums — be it comedy sketches, full-length plays, or screenplays and film.

Now Culture Clash has conceived a new play, Culture Clash (Still) in America, currently having its debut on the Julianne Argyros Stage of Orange County’s award-winning theater company, South Coast Rep. Loosely directed by Lisa Peterson, leaving plenty of space for the amigos trio to shine through the brightness of their improvisational skills. For example, during a bit in an OC-centric piece about the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano, two of the CC performers, Richard Montoya and Herbert Siguenza, mix-up the scripted dialogue, and to the delight of the audience, go into an improvisational riff that is witty, spontaneous, and hilariously creative). Regardless of the comedic combustibility inherent in the this rendition of CC’s commentary on America, there is also an underlying relevance and seriousness to the proceedings.

The topics addressed range from the detention of immigrants and the separation of children from their parents to the color of Christ and how this human symbol of Christianity — the very embodiment of God and the Holy Spirit — could be transformed from a brown-skin Middle Easterner to a blue-eyed white man. Also, broached are the subjects of homosexuality, transgender relationships, ageism, and the soul of 1960’s activism. The chameleon-like performance abilities of Montoya, Salinas, and Siguenza appear to have no boundaries when it comes to gender, race, ethnicity, or class. The three actors are fluid in their characterizations and fearless with the issues in which (both as writers and performers) they take-on with abandon.

With the support of Christopher Acebo’s scenic design, Carolyn Mazuca’s costuming, Tom Ontiveros’s lighting and indispensable projection design, and Paul James Pendergast’s musical compositions and sound design, theatergoers in 90-minutes get a topical tour, if not a cure, for the culture clashes and contradictions inherent in today’s America, something The Three Stooges of yesteryear would nor could address.

Culture Clash (Still) in America continues at South Coast Rep through January 20. For reservations call (714) 708-5555. For online ticketing and further information visit






Laguna Playhouse Announces Ellen Richard as its Interim Executive Director

May 3, 2016…Laguna Beach, Calif…Laguna Playhouse Board of Directors announced today that, later this month, Ellen Richard will be joining Laguna Playhouse as its Interim Executive Director. The Playhouse announced late last year that it was undertaking a national search guided by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) for an Executive Director to succeed Karen Wood who had held this position for the past eight years.

Commenting on the appointment Joe Hanauer and Paul Singarella, Co-Chairmens of the Board of Directors, said “In the midst of our search we encountered this wonderful opportunity to engage Ellen while we continue to seek appropriate long-term leadership. To have found someone with the extraordinary qualifications that Ellen has is thrilling. She is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company where she was Managing Director. Ellen also has strong successes in supervising the construction of theatres in New York and also in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater, a rare and valuable skill set considering the contemplated major remodel and expansion of the Laguna Playhouse.” Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham adds, “We are pleased and proud to have Ellen Richard, truly a rock-star in our field, join us as our interim Executive Director who will help guide the Playhouse during this transition.” Comments Ellen Richard, “I have quickly grown fond of Laguna Beach and the Playhouse. I embrace this extraordinary opportunity to join one of the country’s top regional theatres at this time in its remarkable 95-year history. I look forward to helping the Playhouse and working with their incredible Board of Trustees and Ann E. Wareham.”


Ellen Richard served as Executive Director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 2010 through 2015.  During her tenure, Ms. Richard negotiated a deal to buy the Strand Theater in tech corridor of Mid-Market San Francisco, helped raise the $34,000 million to renovate and operate it and steered the design and construction for the project which opened in May of 2015. The complex featured two performance spaces and has won multiple awards.  She opened the 50 seat Costume Shop Theater, a 49-seat “black box” venue used for the company’s Master of Fine Arts students and for shows by other local companies.  Ms. Richard was also credited with expanding the company’s educational efforts, coming up with programs like the San Francisco Semester, which brings undergraduate acting students to ACT from around the world, and Stage Coach, a community theater mobile unit that reaches into diverse neighborhoods

She was also Executive Director of The Second Stage Theatre in New York City. During her tenure at Second Stage, which began in 2006 (through 2009), she was responsible for the purchase contract of the Helen Hayes Theatre, growth in subscription income of 48 percent, and growth in individual giving of 75 percent, as well as conceptualization of a highly successful gala format and “Second Generation,” a giving program through which donors enable deserving New York City youth to experience live theater. Under Ms. Richard’s leadership, Second Stage provided the initial home for the Broadway productions Everyday Rapture, Next to Normal, and The Little Dog Laughed.

From 1983 to 2005, Ms. Richard enjoyed a rich and varied career with Roundabout Theatre Company. The Roundabout that Ms. Richard joined was a small nonprofit theater company in bankruptcy. By the time she departed as Managing Director, Roundabout had become one of the country’s largest and most successful theater companies of its kind, with net assets in excess of $67 million dollars. Ms. Richard is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer, for Roundabout productions of Cabaret (1998), A View from the Bridge (1998), Side Man (1999), Nine (2003), Assassins (2004), and Glengarry Glen Ross (2005). As producer of more than 125 shows at Roundabout, she had direct supervision of all management and marketing functions. She created Roundabout’s “Theatre-PLUS” programs, which include singles, teachers, family, gay and lesbian, wine tasting, and the 7 p.m. “Early Curtain” series, all of which grew to represent more than 10 percent of Roundabout’s 40,000 subscribers.

As director of design and construction at Roundabout, Ms. Richard was responsible for more than $50 million of theater construction for 11 projects. She conceptualized the three permanent Roundabout stages — The Broadway venues of Studio 54 and the American Airlines Theatre, and the Off-Broadway venue The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre She directed the location search for Cabaret and oversaw the creation of the production’s environmental Kit Kat Klub. Prior to her tenure at Roundabout, Ms. Richard served as business manager of Westport Country Playhouse, theater manager for Stamford Center for the Arts, and business manager for Atlas Scenic Studio. She began her career working as a stagehand, sound designer, and scenic artist assistant.