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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE PRESS CONTACT: Chida Chaemchaeng, Director-Communications & Community Relations [email protected] | (415) 626-2787 x.103 or Sean San José, Program Director: Theatre & Hybrid Project [email protected] | (415) 626-2787 x.107

446 Valencia Street (between 15th/16th) San Francisco, CA 94103


A new play created by Intersection for the Arts and Campo Santo Developed from the Pulitzer Prize Winning Novel 'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao' by Junot Díaz (May 14 - June 21, 2009)

Fukú Americanus

Directed by Marc Bamuthi Joséph and Sean San José San Francisco, CA - February 19, 2009 - INTERSECTION FOR THE ARTS and Resident Theatre Company CAMPO SANTO is proud to present the highly anticipated world premiere of Fukú Americanus inspired by Junot Díaz's Pulitzer Prize Winning novel 'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao'. Developed and directed by Campo Santo's Sean San José, and co-directed by The Living Word Project's Marc Bamuthi Joséph, Fukú Americanus brings together an array of talented performers including Carlos Aguirre, Maria Candelaria, Vanessa Cota, Anna Maria Luera, Brian Rivera and Savannah Shange in a simultaneously epic and intimate tale about family histories, ancient curses, migration and ill-starred love. Combining historical Dominican mythologies and mysticism with current cultural references, the tale forms a dense narrative reflecting the current melting pot of the United States. This stage creation inspired by Junot Díaz's unique fiction comes alive with endearing characters, an unforgettable story and authentic language - living proof that languages, like cultures, are fluid and alive, and evolves with history and each new generation. The World Premiere of Fukú Americanus, created from the Pulitzer Prize winning novel 'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao' by Junot Díaz, begins performances on May 14 and runs through June 21, 2009. All performances are at Intersection for the Arts, located at 446 Valencia Street between 15th and 16th Streets at 8pm. Press Opening is on Monday, May 18 at 8pm. Tickets, priced at $15-25, are available by visiting or by calling 415-626-2787 x.109. All Thursday performances are "Pay-WhatYou-Can" performances (reservations required for all shows.) "'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao' is a masterpiece about our New World, its myths, curses, and bewitching women. Set in America's navel, New Jersey, and haunted by the vision of Trujillo's brutal reign over the Dominican Republic-it is a rousing hymn about the struggle to defy bone-cracking history with ordinary, and extraordinary, love." -novelist Walter Mosley

Intersection and Campo Santo, led by project director/adaptor Sean San José, began work to develop the first full length play inspired by one of this country's most exciting writers, Junot Díaz, after premiering the successful and critically acclaimed play Haze, created from the writings of Díaz, Dave Eggers, Denis Johnson and Vendela Vida as part of Campo Santo's 10th Anniversary Season in 2006. Díaz's first novel, the Pulitzer Prize Award winning 'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao', became the inspiration for Fukú Americanus, a play that follows the book's three younger characters - Oscar, Lola and Yunior. Using the celebrated novel as a starting point, the play follows the three main characters in a fukú (cursed) journey from their ancestral homeland through a borderless diaspora infused with Caribbean, American, Spanish, Latino, and African roots as they navigate the fukú plaguing their histories, families and lives. This play deepens Intersection and Campo Santo's theatre tradition of building relationships with writers- not just playwrights-to create new ways of telling stories and bringing theatre to life. "...A passionate, vibrantly performed sample of Campo's success in deriving drama from other works, often converting the authors into playwrights in the process." (on "Haze" from Campo Santo & Junot Diaz) - Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle Aesthetically the piece explores the unique narratives, vibrant languages and rhythms embodied in Díaz's book and lets them live onstage. The 'fukú' of the title is described as a curse that finds its way into every Dominican family. We trace the fukú through Oscar, to his sister Lola, to the novel's narrator Yunior, shooting back and forth between countries, decades, and narrators. Played out against Bamuthi Joseph's Afro-Haitian, Hip-Hop influenced choreography the result is an active and dynamic performance onstage. "A rich, impassioned vision of the Dominican Republic and its diaspora, filtered through the destiny of a single family. Díaz's reverse family saga, crossed with withering political satire, makes for a compelling, sex-fueled, 21st-century tragi-comedy with a magical twist." -Kirkus Review Campo Santo is fortunate to be the first theatre company in the country to have the opportunity to work with Junot Diaz's words and story. Díaz is an exceptionally innovative writer who insists, through literary form and content, that both borders and language are porous. His writing employs a first person narrative that reads so natural and rhythmic, it is as if it is being overheard rather than read. Díaz's unconventional narrative floats between the ancestral homeland and America. His bold and unapologetic infusion of the Spanish language throughout his work proposes a next generation of our own English language with extraordinary implications for the progression of literature and narrative theatre in this country. "You really want to know what being an X-Man feels like? Just be a smart bookish boy of color in a contemporary U.S. ghetto. Mama mia! Like having bat wings or a pair of tentacles growing out of your chest." -from 'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao' By framing the story with a Dominican curse, Diaz asks us to consider origin and fate in a New World. As issues of immigration heighten in our country, this project will enable Campo Santo to propel its ongoing exploration of the immigrant experience in contemporary American society. As one character Yunior muses, "You can never run away. Not ever.The only way out is in." Through multiple story lines Fukú Americanus evolves into a harrowing meditation on public and private history and the burdens of familial history. Multilingual, full of life, sharply observant and self aware, the story melds history with a uniquely personal narrative, jumping from past and present, carrying with it multiple dialects and cultures. JUNOT DÍAZ (author) is the recent winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. He is the author of the short story collection Drown and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao which also won the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the AnisfieldWolf Book Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. Junot Díaz was born in Villa Juana, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Throughout most of his early childhood he lived with his mother and grandparents while his father worked in the United States. Díaz immigrated to New Jersey, where he was re-united with his father. He completed his BA at Rutgers College, majoring in English. He earned his MFA from Cornell University. Díaz teaches creative writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is also the fiction editor for the Boston Review. He is a founding member of the VONA Writing Workshop, focused on writers of colors. Díaz first worked with Campo Santo as part of a new performance piece Haze created in 2005-06 from his writing along with Dave Eggers, Denis Johnson, and Vendela Vida. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker which listed him as one of the 20 top writers for the 21st century. He has been published in Story, The Paris Review, and in the anthologies Best American

Short Stories (1996, '97, '99, 2000), The O'Henry Prize Stories (2009), and African Voices. He has received a Eugene McDermott Award, a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, a Lila Wallace Readers Digest Award, the Pen/Malamud Award, the US-Japan Creative Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was selected one of the 39 most important Latin American writers under the age of 39 by the Bogotá Book Capital of the World and the Hay Festival. Díaz also published a Spanish translation of Drown- Negocios. Díaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao was released in Fall 2007. In The New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani characterized Díaz's writing as "a sort of streetwise brand of Spanglish that even the most monolingual reader can easily inhale. And he conjures with seemingly effortless aplomb the two worlds his characters inhabit: the Dominican Republic, the ghost-haunted motherland that shapes their nightmares and their dreams; and America (a.k.a. New Jersey), the land of freedom and hope and not-soshiny possibilities that they've fled to as part of the great Dominican diaspora." The novel was awarded the Sargent First Novel Prize and was selected by Time and New York Magazine as the best novel of 2007. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Los Angeles Times, Village Voice, Christian Science Monitor, New Statesman, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, and Publishers Weekly also placed the novel on their Best of 2007 lists. National Book Critics Circle ranked it the most recommended novel by their members. Marc Bamuthi Joséph (Co-Director, Choreography) is an educator, performer, and the artistic director of The Living Word Project, a theater company dedicated to the aesthetics of post-hip hop performance, also in residence in Intersection's Hybrid Project. In the Fall of 2007, Bamuthi graced the cover of Smithsonian Magazine after being named one of America's Top Young Innovators in the Arts and Sciences. He is a National Poetry Slam champion, Broadway veteran, GOLDIE award winner, featured artist on Russell Simmons' Def Poetry on HBO and inaugural recipient of the United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship. He has entered the world of literary performance after crossing the sands of "traditional" theater, most notably on Broadway in the Tony Award winning The Tap Dance Kid and Stand-Up Tragedy. His own evening-length works have been presented throughout the United States and Europe and include Word Becomes Flesh, Scourge, De/Cipher and No Man's Land. Bamuthi's current solo piece, the break/s, copremiered at the Humana Festival of New American Plays and the Walker Arts Center in 2008, and later at at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theatre. Bamuthi tours his works nationally- his current show has been presented at The Kennedy Center, the new Skirball Theatre at NYU, among many others, with performances at The Red Cat Theatre in Los Angeles and more to follow. His work has been enabled by several prestigious foundation awards including grants from the Ford Foundation, the Center for Cultural Innovation, Creative Capital, the National Performance Network, the Gerbode Foundation, the Creative Work Fund, the Rockefeller MAP Fund, the NEA, the Hewlett Foundation, and a Dance Advance award from the PEW Foundation. A gifted and nationally acclaimed educator and essayist, he has lectured at more than 100 colleges and universities, been a popular commentator on National Public Radio, and has carried adjunct professorships at Stanford University, Mills College, and the University of Wisconsin. A resident at ODC Theater, YBCA, and Intersection, Bamuthi's proudest work has been with Youth Speaks where he mentors 13-19 year old writers. Mr. Joséph's next project, red black and green: a blues performatively documents the eco-equity movement towards green collar jobs in Black neighborhoods. Sean San José (Project Director) is the Program Director of Theatre at Intersection and co-founder of Intersection's Resident Theatre Company Campo Santo. He has created works with Marc Bamuthi Joséph, Erika Chong Shuch, Jessica Hagedorn, Margo Hall, Tommy Shepherd, Octavio Solis, and more than 500 artists in his time at Intersection. He has created and directed new theatre works from the writings of Jimmy Santiago Baca, Dave Eggers, Denis Johnson, Ntozake Shange, Vendela Vida, and more recently directed the multi-extended new production Angry Black White Boy from Adam Mansbach's book, adapted by Dan Wolf. He is currently developing Campo Santo's new piece The Future , an interdisciplinary piece with Erika Chong Shuch and writings from Philip Kan Gotanda, Octavio Solis and others. Campo Santo is Spanish for sacred ground. Like the roots of their name, they take the sacred form of storytelling and use it as a tool to bond community through socially relevant plays. Fukú Americanus marks the 40th Premiere production for Campo Santo. Campo Santo's first play was by the great Mexican American playwright Octavio Solis. They were attracted to his stories because, most directly, they found themselves and the world reflected in them. They were also seduced by his powerful fusion of traditional theatricality which seamlessly combines the Spanish and English languages toward something new. Solis was not simply telling a "Mexican" story, rather he was telling a story of borders of all kinds, a story that then belongs to us all. Since that initial inspiration, Campo Santo has sought out other writers whose work celebrates the often untold or misunderstood stories of American immigrants -Japanese, Filipinos, African

American, and the countless borderless ones. The constituency of people who make Campo Santo home are hard pressed to check only one box when asked to describe their cultural or racial identity. They come to the theatre to put their hands on an ongoing history of family and nation. Indeed, Campo Santo is a company and community of immigrants floating in a world that is neither here nor there. This is the stuff Campo Santo was founded to explore. One of Campo Santo's greatest success has been the ability to create long term relationships with internationally known writers who are leaders in developing work that is broadening and diversifying the American voice - including Jimmy Santiago Baca, Philip Kan Gotanda, Jessica Hagedorn, Naomi Iizuka, Denis Johnson, Octavio Solis and Erin Cressida Wilson, to name a few. Over the years Campo Santo has developed an organic process for creating new plays that has allowed them to build a very diverse constituency made up of committed collaborators and loyal audience members. ABOUT INTERSECTION FOR THE ARTS Intersection for the Arts is San Francisco's oldest alternative non-profit art space (est. 1965) and has a long history of presenting new and experimental work in the fields of literature, theater, music and the visual arts, and also in nurturing and supporting the Bay Area's cultural community through service, technical support, and mentorship programs. Intersection provides a place where provocative ideas, diverse art forms, artists, and audiences can intersect one another. Intersection's Theatre Program is well established especially in the fields of new work development (more than 40 premiere plays with Campo Santo), multi-disciplinary work (dance theatre group the ESP Project is premiering their new piece at YBCA as part of their 5th year in residence with Intersection); experimental merging of theatrical forms (more than 50 new works have been developed through the Hybrid Project); and a history of investment in long term relationships developing, supporting and premiering works with artists throughout the years including Claudia Bernardi, Ala Ebtekar, Whoopi Goldberg, Joe Goode, Margo Hall, Rhodessa Jones, Marcus Shelby, Howard Wiley, and countless others. At Intersection for the Arts, experimentation and risk are possible, debate and critical inquiry are embraced, community is essential, resources and experience are democratized, and today's issues are thrashed about in the heat and immediacy of live art. -###Editor's Note: For high resolution images, please contact Chida Chaemchaeng at [email protected] or 415-626-2787 x.103.

Calendar Editors Please Note

Event: Fukú Americanus A new play created by Intersection for the Arts and Campo Santo Developed from the Pulitzer Prize Winning Novel 'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao' by Junot Díaz Date & Time: May 14 - June 21 (Thursdays-Sundays) at 8 PM Press Opening: Monday, May 18, 2009 Written and Developed by: Sean San José from the Pulitzer Prize Winning Novel 'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao' by Junot Díaz Directed by: Marc Bamuthi Joséph and Sean San José Featuring: Carlos Aguirre, Maria Candalaria, Vanessa Cota, Anna Maria Luera, Brian Rivera, Savannah Shange Collaborative Team: Sharif Abu-Hamdeh (Assistant Director), Heather Basarab (lighting), Robert Hampton (costumes), James Faerron (scenic design), CC Sheldon (stage manager), Raha Benham, Alejandro Acosta

Location: Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia Street (between 15th and 16th Streets), Mission District, San Francisco, 94103 Cost: $15 - $25 sliding scale (Thursdays are Pay-What-You-Can) Tickets & Information: (415) 626-2787 x.109,



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