A chat with the New Orleans-based performance artist and writer Jose Torres Tama.
Tulsa, Oklahoma – On today's show: Jose Torres Tama, a writer, performance artist, and NPR commentator (for the program Latino USA). Tama is a resident of New Orleans; he's in town to perform his acclaimed one-man show called "The Cone of Uncertainty: New Orleans after Katrina." This show is just one of the many new and/or avant-garde art works that comprise the 16th New Genre Festival, which is happening at venues all across Tulsa through the weekend. (For more information on this festival, including event details and how to get tickets, visit livingarts.org.) As Tama tells our host Rich Fisher, his post-Katrina escape from New Orleans came by way of a stolen school bus days after the storm had hit the city. Tama's outspoken, politically- and socially-charged art works --- as well as his thought and writings --- have been dramatically shaped by the nightmare that was Katrina and its aftermath. Even now, years after the storm, Tama affirms that "The Cone of Uncertainty: New Orleans after Katrina" still carries much importance and truth for him personally --- and for his audiences. "The meaning of the piece," he says, "hasn't changed, because above all it's about the lives. . . . You learn more about the work once you perform it."