Carmelita Tropicana

Carmelita Tropicana

Fellow: Awarded 2017
Field of Study: Drama and Performance Art

Competition: US & Canada

Throughout her 35-year career, Carmelita Tropicana’s cri de coeur has been “Your Kunst Is Your Waffen” (Your Art Is Your Weapon). Straddling the worlds of performance art and theater,
Tropicana blends autobiography with history and fantasy, playing with language to bridge cultures. Her irreverent humor challenges cultural stereotypes to rewrite history from different
perspectives—as Carmelita Tropicana, the “superintendentperformance artiste”, Arriero, Hernán Cortés’ horse, Ursa, a futuristic human-bear hybrid.

Tropicana’s awards include an Obie, Anonymous Was a Woman Award and New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships in Performance Art and Playwriting/Scriptwriting. In 2016 she received a Creative Capital award and a MacDowell Fellowship for a collaboration with playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins touching on artistic and social legacies.

Her writing has been anthologized, most recently in Animal Acts, Performing Species Today. Her book I, Carmelita Tropicana, Performing Between Cultures was published by Beacon Press. She is an editor, along with Holly Hughes and Jill Dolan of Memories of the Revolution: the First Ten Years of the Wow Café Theater.

Photograph credit: Carlos David

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