David Gonzalez With speech, sound, mime, dance and above all, inspired imagination, nationally acclaimed master storyteller/performer David Gonzalez is keeping the ancient art of storytelling alive. From London’s Royal National Theater to Broadway to hundreds of schools across North America, Gonzalez has performed to more than 5,000 audiences worldwide. A winner of the Helen Hayes Performing Artist of the Year Award, Gonzalez is applauded for his vocal, physical and narrative talents and gift for mimicry, comic timing, and wordplay. Relying on the majesty and variety of language, the limitless landscape of imagination, the pulse of music and the beauty of art, he creates and performs multimedia productions that capture audiences of all ages and cultures.
Described as “a New York Puerto Rican version of Bill Cosby,” Gonzalez tells ages-old world myths and stories, tales from his Puerto Rican and Cuban culture, and from his childhood experiences in the Bronx. As poet/guitarist/band leader, Gonzalez has created three jazz-infused shows that combine his contemporary, resonantly rich poetry with the Afro-Cuban rhythms, swing, funk, and rumba of Latin jazz. The critically acclaimed ¡Sofrito! featuring the Larry Harlow and the Latin Legends Band, and MytholoJazz, have both enjoyed sold-out runs at New York’s New Victory Theater. City of Dreams, featuring the Poetic License Band, will receive a New York City run at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in January 2009.
As a celebrant of human possibility, Gonzalez uses a fresh, evocative language to share a wide array of stories about struggle and tribulation. Double Crossed: The Saga of the St. Louis, is a powerful virtuosic performance that recreates the tragic and heroic voyage of European Jews fleeing the Holocaust. Commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution’s Discovery Theater, Double Crossed has toured nationally including a run at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Other recent projects include Finding North, a one-man play based on the Underground Railroad hero John P. Parker commissioned by the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park to commemorate the opening of the Freedom Center, and the 2007 premiere of Rise for Freedom, a libretto commissioned and produced by the Cincinnati Opera.
Dedicated to producing community-driven projects, Gonzalez has received several recent commissions to create multimedia works with social justice themes. As part of the University of Maryland’s “Performance as Politic/Artist as Activist” 2009 season, Gonzalez will develop Wounded Splendor, a two-year community residency project that will culminate in a 2010 world premiere.
Coupled with video images of the natural world and music by composer/pianist Daniel Kelly, Wounded Splendor brings together poetry and monologues inspired from interviews with activists and experts in the environmental movement. In addition, the Empire State Plaza Performing Arts Center commissioned works that premiered this past year as part of The Egg’s 30th anniversary: Jimi and Mr. B took audiences on a journey of New York’s performing arts history; and Oh Hudson, a suite of historical and colorfully descriptive poems with music by Mark O’Connor, Don Bryon, and Daniel Bernard Roumain, commemorates the Hudson River’s quadricentennial, a New York City premiere is scheduled for Spring 2009.