Arts The romantic is the political

RESET Collective combines live theater and video for funny, pointed musings on identity, love, and location

"There's this Hollywood ideal of what love is and all these other things of what love is and love really isn't like that," says Haldun Morgan, one of the driving forces behind the RESET multimedia magazine and the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center's most recent teatro production.

Joel Settles (left) and Dava Hernandez perform a scene from What Are You Doing Tonight? at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center's Teatro Space. (Photos by Mark Greenberg)

The production, What Are You Doing Tonight?, is comprised of seven vignettes and four video sequences dedicated to exploring relationships between Latino and Latina generation X members in San Antonio. It ran for one weekend, September 23-24. The play was written and directed by the core RESET group of Adriana Garcia, Dava Hernandez , Haldun, Joel Settles, and Leonard Favela, with additional input from a handful of RESET Collective supporters. Unlike previous RESET material, What Are You Doing Tonight? primarily avoids politics and posturing to dissect the comical modes, and the frequent lack. of communication between young couples. At the center of it all stands DJ Love Notes, a guide and commentator present throughout the play and smoothly portrayed by the lanky Favela.

The show opens and closes with "Where Are We Going," a scene that replicates a banter-fueled conversation between a couple en route to an undetermined destination, which takes playful jabs at assimilation, Bar America, and those awkward moments after a play when criticism abounds. Subsequent scenes such as "High School Sweethearts" and "Nicole" examine the emotional minutia that surface after love has gone, and "Girl's Night Out" offers a tender moment between gifted mujeres. Garcia dedicated the show's run to her beloved uncle Rudy "Diamond" Garcia, who passed away this month, a co-founder of the Guadalupe whose humor and art touched many in his lifetime.

Particularly effective are the video sequences, which feature solid cameos from familiar Guadalupe players and serve as bridges from one scene to the next. In "I Just Want To Dance!," local director and actress Maria Ibarra captures the frustration and futility of an attractive young woman sitting alone in a club. "Video Letters From Home" features moving turns by Mara Posada, Nicolas Valdez, and his daughter Azucena as family members sending tender postcards to loved ones in Iraq, setting the tone for the subsequent live scene titled "What Are We Doing Here?" "Haters," a laugh-out-loud send-off of the reality show Cheaters, is RESET at its best with on-point editing and graphics, and an inspired performance by the always engaging Janie Saucedo. "San Anto Playboy," which rounds out the play's video sequences, offers a comedic take on the quintessential Alamo City playa' that frequents Azúcar, is always on the prowl, and still lives with his mother.

In somewhat disappointing fashion, What Are You Doing Tonight? closes with a pair of scenes that resort to homosexuality for their punch-lines, and the abundance of glib local references suggests the feel of a glorified GRUPO ANIMO production. To their credit, the cast and crew are able to rise above the constricting confines of the Guadalupe's alternative theater space with satisfying results. Dava Hernandez, a longtime member of the G.C.A.C. dance company, exudes confidence as an actress, and Joel Settles, perhaps unfettered from the scatological musings of Comedia-A-Go-Go, looks right at home on the Guadalupe stage.

Ultimately, the cast acknowledges and proves that in the pantheon of post-identity politics, relationships often become issues. "It's definitely important to acknowledge the roots of teatro, to keep it localized, keep it based in the community," explains Hernandez. "Even though we're talking about relationships, we're still bringing in those other issues that are also important. Make this teatro."

By M. Solis

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