Paul S. Flores

Doris Duke Artist Award, 2015

San Francisco, CA

Poet, performance artist, playwright, and spoken word artist Paul S. Flores explores the intersection of urban culture, Hip-Hop, and transnational identity rooted in his growing up in both Chula Vista, CA and Tijuana, Mexico. His works include the play PLACAS: The Most Dangerous Tattoo (2012), a bilingual tale of fathers and sons, transformation and redemption; the solo performance You’re Gonna Cry (2011); and the two-hander REPRESENTA! (2007). Support for his work includes the NPN Forth Fund Award (2014), Creation Fund (2012), and an NEA grant (2013). Most recently, he received awards from The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation/The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures Fund for the Arts for his work Arresting Life. As co-founder of Youth Speaks, he has introduced spoken word to hundreds of thousands of youth all over the country, and has developed a national platform for young people through the Brave New Voices: National Teen Poetry Slam, seen on HBO. He teaches Hip-Hop Theatre and Spoken Word at University of San Francisco.

  • Photo Credit: Pocho 1
    Paul S. Flores
  • Paul S. Flores- Spoken Word (December 2013): /122986768
    Spoken Word (December 2013)
  • Arroz Con Pollo at Oakland Parish (November 2011)
  • Paul S. Flores- You’re Gonna Cry (February 2011): /29305411
    You’re Gonna Cry (February 2011)
  • Ric Salinas in PLACAS: The Most Dangerous Tattoo (April 2014)
  • Photo Credit: Jay Franco
  • Photo Credit: John Liu
  • Photo Credit: Myra Mejia
  • Photo by Ramsey El Qare
    You're Gonna Cry, 2011

What are your key goals for the award period? What challenges, desires, drives, or needs are inspiring these goals?

Often my community is stereotyped as criminal or ignorant, misogynistic and violent -resulting in generational pain. I will utilize theatre as a social practice to transform cultural and political dynamics for members of my community who are marginalized or traumatized. To develop a 21st century theatre, it is important to counteract the isolation people of color feel in a society, emphasizing an individualistic “bootstraps” mentality. My work over the past 15 years has consistently integrated social services, community organizers, traditional healers, and youth in schools into my theatre-making process. My goals are to integrate documentary theatre, interactive video, and media to amplify the voice of marginalized individuals and families victimized by state oppression, racial violence, gentrification, and eviction. I will document my community through story circles and “conocimiento” - the act of getting to know someone with the intention of acknowledging his or her background and humanity. I want to dramatize how cultural traditions survive, how they are remixed and applied to community empowerment in order to heal and create exchange with less diverse communities.