The Beginnings of Culture Clash
The "brain child" of Galeria de la Raza's René Yáñez, Culture Clash began its creative life on May 5, 1984. The original members of the group were Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas, Herbert Sigüenza, José Antonio Burciaga, Marga Gómez, and Monica Palacios. Originally named "Comedy Fiesta," the group was reduced to four members when Gómez and Palacios departed in 1986 to continue their art in other venues. Burciaga remained, but left two years later in 1988. By this time, known as "Culture Clash," they performed their cabaret-style act at venues all over the country.
An important early influence on Culture Clash was Luis Valdez's El Teatro Campesino--all three members of Culture Clash are alumni. El Teatro Campesino began in California in 1965 as an outgrowth of the United Farm Workers. The actors, many farm workers themselves, created mini-plays called actos that dramatized the daily lives of farm workers and mobilized them to act on important issues. El Teatro Campesino's style derived from the carpa or tent show, a traditional style of entertainment popular in the Southwestern United States and Mexico featuring music, drama, and dance.