Performance art icon Carmelita Tropicana returns to Marlboro with filmmaker Ela Troyano to delve into bio-politics and scientific inquiry with Schwanze-Beast

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Marlboro, VT— Vermont Performance Lab (VPL) joined forces with Marlboro College to bring writer and performance art icon Alina Troyano (a.k.a. Carmelita Tropicana) to southern Vermont for an in-depth research and development residency to expand her latest work Schwanze-Beast. Last October, Tropicana's residency began with a planning visit that included Tropicana's first Vermont appearance as one of three outrageous judges at the Brattleboro Literary Festival's Literary Death Match event. Since then, Tropicana has visited Vermont for a VPL Lab Talk at Marlboro College with Obie award winning theater director Ain Gordon and to co-teach the "Borders, Boundaries, and Crossings" theater seminar with Marlboro College professor Brenda Foley.

grafitti-Carmelita-Tropicana-March-April-2014-photo-by-Uzi-Parnes-This month, Tropicana will return to Vermont for a VPL residency with long-time collaborators filmmaker Ela Troyano, and Berlin actor/director Susanne Sachsse to workshop Schwanze-Beast. In this new work, Tropicana and her collaborators have delved into ethics and scientific inquiry to pose the question: "what separates human from beast?" Tropicana deftly mixes languages (English, German and Spanish) and form to create a hybrid performance work. In Schwanze-Beast she will meld the scientific lecture with science fiction and performance to address the civil rights of the animal species, delving into biotech and bio-politics in a minimal expressionistic performance style.

Tropicana writes, "As an artist I straddle the world of performance art and theater, using humor and fantasy as subversive tools to re-write history from the point of view of woman, man, child and assorted animals and insects. As a bicultural artist, I use spoken language to examine concepts through foreign words." Her work has been presented nationally and internationally both in Spanish and English, and in 1999 she garnered an Obie award for Sustained Excellence of Performance.

On April 1st audiences will get a sneak peek at Schwanze-Beast in this work-in-progress showing at 7pm at The Whittemore Theater, Marlboro College. The showing will be followed by a discussion with the artists and VPL Director Sara Coffey.

For reservations to the April 1st IN THE WORKS event, please call VPL at 802-257-3360 or visit

The residency with Carmelita Tropicana is produced by Vermont Performance Lab in association with Marlboro College, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and VPL's Creation Fund donors.


WHEN: Tuesday, April 1 @ 7PM
WHERE: The Whittemore Theater, 2582 South Road, Marlboro, VT
WHAT: Vermont Performance Lab in association with Marlboro College presents a work-in-progress showing of new performance work created by Alina Troyano (a.k.a. Carmelita Tropicana) and long-time collaborator filmmaker Ela Troyano and actor/director Susanne Sachsse. Part psychological sci-fi thriller and part performative scientific lecture, Schwanze-Beast delves into biotech, bio-politics and civil rights and poses the question: "what separates human from beast?" Following the showing, there will be a post-performance discussion with the artists.
TICKETS: FREE - reservations recommended by calling 802-257-3361 or



CARMELITA TROPICANA (a.k.a. Alina Troyano) is a performance artist, playwright, and actor. Troyano burst on New York's downtown performing arts scene in the eighties with her alter ego, the spitfire Carmelita Tropicana and her counterpart, the irresistible archetypal Latin macho Pingalito Betancourt, followed by performances as Hernando Cortez's horse and la Cucaracha Martina from her childhood fairytales in Cuba.

In Tropicana's work, humor and fantasy become subversive tools to rewrite history. Tropicana's performances plays and videos have been presented at venues such as the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, the Thalia Theater in Hamburg, Centre de Cultura Contemporanea in Barcelona, the Berlin International Film Festival, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, Dance Theater Workshop, the Mark Taper Forum's Kirk Douglas Theatre and the Studio Museum of Harlem. Her work has received funding support from the Independent Television Service, the Jerome Foundation, and the Rockefeller Suitcase Fund. She is the recipient of awards and fellowships including the Anonymous Was a Woman Award, The New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships, the Teddy Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival, and an Obie for sustained excellence in performance.

ELA TROYANO is an interdisciplinary filmmaker, born in Cuba and based in NYC. Troyano is currently developing a new feature film project and co-editing a book of essays with Professor Alexandra Vazquez on the legendary Afro-Cuban pop singer La Lupe for Duke University Press.
The Arsenal in Berlin presented a career survey of Troyano's work in 2012 including rarely seen films from the 1980's. Recent shows include live film performances at the New Horizons Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland (2011) and Berlin International Film Festival (2010). She collaborated with her sister, performance artist Carmelita Tropicana on Post Plastica, a performance presented at the Colony Theater in Miami (2013) and at El Museo del Barrio and commissioned by Performance Space 122 in New York (2012).
Her films include the PBS documentary La Lupe Queen of Latin Soul and featurette Carmelita Tropicana Your Kunst is Your Waffen (Your Art Is Your Weapon). Troyano has worked as a writer/director in film, theater and television and improviser in experimental music and dance. She attended writing workshops with Maria Irene Fornes at INTAR and Gabriel Garcia Marquez at Sundance. Select awards include funding from Creative Capital, the Ford Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB), Rockefeller Fellowship, Independent Television Service (ITVS), the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), the Theo Westenberger Award and United States Rockefeller Fellowship.

SUSANNE SACHSSE was a member of the Berliner Ensemble where she worked with Heiner Müller, Einar Schleef, and Robert Wilson. In 2001, she co-founded the art collective CHEAP, with whom she develops performances, installations and club projects. She has worked consistently in theater and film with Bruce LaBruce, Yael Bartana, Phil Collins, Keren Cytter, and Katya Sander. In 2011-12, Sachsse appeared in Vegard Vinge's John Gabriel Borkman (Berlin), co-curated the Camp/Anti-Camp Festival (Berlin/Frankfurt am Main), and wrote, directed and starred in Communist Bigamist, Two Love Stories (Berlin/Düsseldorf/Basel). Sachsse's first video work Serious Ladies had it's premiere at the KW/ Berlin and will be shown at the Mumbai Film Festival, Werkleitz Festival/ Halle, The Model/Sligo, Ireland and at Experimental Film Festival in Bangalore/India. Recently, she recorded Schönberg's Pierrot Lunaire for her new film with Bruce LaBruce.


Working with the notion that the rural communities of Southern Vermont can be a fertile laboratory for incubating new contemporary performance works, Vermont Performance Lab founded its Lab Program in 2006. Each year VPL selects three to five to eight artists to participate in the Lab Program – a creative residency where artists have access to various kinds of creative space in a small rural Vermont community. In this retreat-like setting, artists can concentrate on research and experimentation and test performance ideas with small audiences and engage with local artists, scholars and experts. VPL often partners with local organizations to host such residencies and create meaningful connections between artists and communities.


With locations in the foothills of Vermont's Green Mountains and downtown Brattleboro, Marlboro College provides independent thinkers with exceptional opportunities to broaden their intellectual horizons, benefit from a small and close-knit learning community, create a strong framework for personal and career fulfillment, and make a positive difference in the world. At our undergraduate campus in the town of Marlboro and our Center for Graduate and Professional Studies in Brattleboro, students engage in deep exploration of their interests—and discover new avenues for using their skills to benefit themselves and others—in an atmosphere that emphasizes critical and creative thinking, independence, social justice, sustainability, and community.