Two local theaters debut new streaming productions

Richard Montoya of Culture Clash
Richard Montoya of the Culture Clash theater troupe in a scene from the first installment of “The Totally Fake Latino News” for La Jolla Playhouse’s Without Walls Festival.
(Courtesy photo)

North Coast Repertory Theatre’s ‘Human Error’ and La Jolla Playhouse’s ‘Totally Fake Latino News’ premiere online Monday


Although theaters are shuttered indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic, two local companies premiered new productions Monday via livestreaming links.

La Jolla Playhouse’s all-digital 2020 Without Walls Festival continues with the first episode of “The Totally Fake Latino News with Culture Clash.” It’s now available for free viewing on the Playhouse’s website. Also debuting Monday is North Coast Repertory Theatre’s West Coast premiere of “Human Error,” which is performed by five actors in a socially distanced, enhanced Zoom production. Tickets are $10 and are on sale through June 29.

Herbert Siguenza, one-third of the 36-year-old San Francisco-born Latino performance troupe Culture Clash, said he and his partners Richard Montoya and Ric Salinas, will produce six 10-minute “Totally Fake Latino News” episodes through the Playhouse commission.

Now playwright in residence for San Diego Repertory Theatre, Siguenza lives in San Diego and Montoya and Salinas both live in L.A. But they’re collaborating digitally this spring and summer via phone, email and Zoom to create the series, which is being edited by Pablo Prietto. Five more episodes will be released over the summer.

“We’ll do some sketches where we get together on Zoom and in a sense are together. With the magic of editing you can make it seem like we’re together,” Siguenza said.

The first episode has individual appearances by each member of the trio in their homes doing comic bits, as well as numerous animated and video segments that touch on the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter marches, national politics and immigration. It also pays tribute to Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the Sí, Se Puede! farmworkers labor movement, on her recent 90th birthday.

The episode also features vintage clips of the trio from some of their past theater productions, including an early piece about a group of Mexican men and women attempting to rescue a “cholo” from a well in the barrio, in the style the 1987 rescue of Jessica McClure in Texas in 1987. There’s also an old clip of Siguenza painting a canvas as a Latino version of Bob Ross, but instead of a landscape, it’s a Mexican barrio with a low rider car and drive-by shooting.

Siguenza, who has presented a solo show based on painter Pablo Picasso several times in San Diego, said he’s creating a painting scene for “Totally Fake” where he’ll play Hector Picasso, the illegitimate son of Pablo.

Siguenza said he’s never been busier this spring, with multiple commissions from California theaters desperate for online programming. And he’s always happy and grateful for an opportunity to work with his fellow Clashers.

“We like to think of ourselves as old jazz musicians,” he said. “We just know what the next guy’s going to lay down and what direction it will take. When it comes to sketch, that’s really our comfort zone.”

To view the first episode, visit:

A scnee from North Coast Repertory Theatre's Zoom-based comedy "Human Error."
Terrell Donnell Sledge, left, Martin Kildare and Allison Spratt Pearce in a scene from North Coast Repertory Theatre’s Zoom-based comedy “Human Error.”
(Courtesy photo)

Also making its debut Monday is Eric Pfeffinger’s “Human Error,” a medical mix-up and cultural divide comedy. It’s among the first Equity-cast plays to be produced nationwide since the pandemic began.

The cast — which includes Allison Spratt Pearce, Jacque Wilke and Terrell Donnell Sledge — were recorded on Zoom filming scenes from their homes at three different angles so if two performers are in a scene together they can appear to be facing each other for shared dialogue. The production mixes the actors in cameo cutouts before a series of backdrops that include an office, homes, cars and other places.

To purchase a screening link, visit

Meanwhile, new dates have been announced for “Binge,” another Without Walls production that was scheduled to premiere last week but was postponed out of respect for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Limited tickets, priced at $25, are on sale for performances on June 30–July 12

Created in England in 2019 by Brian Lobel & Friends, this tailor-made, one-on-one Zoom performance piece involves the performer choosing an episode of a classic TV show for the audience member that they watch together as a means of opening up a conversation.

To prepare for the custom-designed experience, the ticket buyer fills out a questionnaire about themselves and some of their favorite childhood TV shows 24 hours before they meet up with the performer on Zoom.

-- Pam Kragen is a reporter for The San Diego Union--Tribune