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‘Tacos With a Fork’: Theatre Student to Perform Original Show at Grand Central Art Center

Class of 2024 Grad Aspires to Become an Actor
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In a bustling taquería with cumbia music blasting from stereos, a 5-year-old Christian De La Torre sat at a table eating tacos with a fork. He would only eat plain corn tortillas with no salsa, cilantro or onions and a heap of meat to satisfy his belly.

Growing up in a predominantly Hispanic community, De La Torre symbolically perceived himself as “the fork,” a light-skinned Mexican who assimilated with “hard shell tacos,” or the machismo gang culture in high school.

As De La Torre detached himself from peer pressure over time, he discovered himself in acting.

After touring 20 college campuses through Upward Bound — a program that prepares high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree for college success — De La Torre saw himself at Cal State Fullerton. 

Transferring from Yuba College, he enrolled in a voice and movement course in the College of the Arts’ devised performance/physical theatre program. 

“The community that you are able to build with physical theatre is incredibly touching. We perform lifts, acrobatics and we form a strong and trusting relationship because sometimes our entire weight is on a classmate’s shoulder,” said De La Torre.

His mentor, Anne James, professor of theatre and dance, heads the university’s new devised performance/physical theatre B.F.A. concentration. The curriculum combines aspects of theatre, film, design, music and technology to tell multidimensional stories.

De La Torre is the first student in the program to perform an original solo show. “Tacos With a Fork” debuts May 3 and 4 at 8 p.m. at CSUF’s Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana.

“Performing a one-person show is an incredible feat. He will play his mother, father, sister, classmates and friends over the years. It’s extremely demanding and requires exceptional skill to deftly shift from one character into another,” explained James. “Christian has a dance background, so he brings a sense of line, athleticism and imagination to his physical work.”

Morphing from character to character, De La Torre strives to captivate the audience with his playful physicalities. 

“I usually look in a mirror and exaggerate. If I’m hunched over, that is a sign of insecurity or anxiety. If I’m taking up space, that’s a sign of confidence, power and openness,” said De La Torre. “The shapes I form with my body help embody my characters.”

As a first-generation student, his parents live vicariously through their son’s passion for acting. 

“My mom is a stage mom, watching me live the dream,” he shared. As a high school student, he memorized Ice Cube’s meltdown scene in “21 Jump Street” for fun. As the movie played on the television screen, De La Torre performed in front of his father, who is a warehouse foreman. Astonished by his creativity, his father insisted he should be an actor. 

He has now invested more than two years in the devised performance/physical theatre B.F.A. program. Every Friday last spring, De La Torre and James experimented with the script, fleshing out his memories of Yuba City, family, upbringing and ethnicity.

With support from his family and James, De La Torre aspires to pursue an M.F.A. after graduation this spring. 

“He started to find his voice as a playwright and storyteller and claim his history. As a professor, it has just been so inspiring to witness,” said James.

Written by: Vanessa Siguenza