Brian Quijada is unstoppable. In his autobiographical Where Did We Sit on the Bus?, he sings, dances, and wields a live looper like a genius to create a solo performer musical that takes us all the way from his conception to a frank conversation about race with his future child, hitting all the most important lessons he learned along the way.
Quijada gets shockingly intimate. Depicting his own parents having sex sets a high bar early on. He keeps it up, describing so beautifully in words and music what his youth and young adulthood were like, including a tense moment in elementary school, learning about Rosa Parks, when he asks where Latinos like him would have been made to sit. “You weren’t around,” said his teacher lamely. His live looper hits us with that line over and over, just as it stuck in a much younger Quijada’s mind. “You weren’t around. You weren’t around. You weren’t around.”
The show is also astounding technically. Watching Quijada build each song before your eyes never gets old. When he murmurs whatever line will serve as the looping backdrop to the song, it takes on the quality of a villanelle. You wonder, “How will our perspective on this chorus evolve over the course of this song?”
Where Did We Sit on the Bus?
closes July 22, 2018
Details and tickets
Whereas The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, also in the Logan Festival of Solo Performances, has a lazy critique of technology, especially smart phones, Quijada uses his smart phone as part of the music, commanding his live looper without even needing to return to his desk. As a millennial, it is just plain empowering to see a smart phone so successfully integrated into art.
Lighting designer Diane Fairchild does amazing work completing the show’s concert-like aesthetic. The lights manage to keep pace with Quijada, constantly changing as the story evolves.
And keeping pace with Quijada is not easy! His energy is incredible, and threatens to leave the audience behind if they can’t keep up. The show is almost exhausting after 60 minutes, with 20 left to go. But it’s well worth holding tight to this rising star.
Where Did We Sit on the Bus? Written, performed, and sound designed by Brian Quijada. Lighting Design: Diane Fairchild . Directed by Chay Yew. Produced by 1st Stage. Review by Marshall Bradshaw