Thursday, December 8, 2011

Men of Tortuga, Steet Corner Arts at the Hyde Park Theatre, December 1 - 17

Men of Tortuga Jason Wells Street Corner Arts

Where is Tortuga and whom are these conspirators targeting?

Tortuga is Spanish for "turtle" and there are Tortugas all over the place. Lots of islands, for example -- a former pirates' haven off the northern coast of Haiti, an island off Venezuela, others off Costa Rica, in the Gallapagos and down in the Florida Keys. There's an unincorporated community in California close to the border with Mexico. My brother, in town for a visit, misremembered the title as Men of Tortuga Street, since the ancient reptile is honored in many another California community.

I had no difficulty imagining that these conservative suits and their hired expert in kinetic kills might be studying someone like charismatic ideologue Hugo Chávez, elected president of Venezuela in 1998. Chávez is still in office today despite economic mismanagement, audacious grandstanding and the hammering that he has given the wealthy elites and middle class. In another life I was the State Department officer waiting at the bottom of the ramp to welcome him upon his first visit to Washington.

The timing corresponds, as well. This script was one of about a thousand unsolicited manuscripts mailed to the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago in 2004. They produced it as part of their new plays series in the converted space in the parking garage. Cast member in this production Rommel Sulit saw it during that first run.

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