Salinas, CA September 16, 2013 – Beginning Oct. 4, three esteemed, award-winning artists – playwright Octavio Solis, visual artist Patricia Wakida and filmmaker P.J. Palmer – will join the National Steinbeck Center to retrace the journey that The Grapes of Wrath’s Joad family took along America’s Route 66. The artists and the Center will travel through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, just as the Joads did at the height of the Dust Bowl—toward California and their hopes of a better life.
Each artist comes from a unique background and creative discipline. They individually represent distinguished careers crafted through textured work that explores social, environmental and cultural themes. Along the Journey, they will collect oral histories from people they meet, gathering stories of triumph over hardship and the gallantry of modern America’s beautiful struggle. Their experiences will inform newly commissioned work to be presented at the 2014 Steinbeck Festival, May 2-4 at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, CA.
Octavio Solis is a renowned playwright and director. Among his numerous accolades are a NEA 1995-97 Playwriting Fellowship and the National Latino Playwriting Award for 2003. His robust catalogue includes the stage adaptation of John Steinbeck’s “The Pastures of Heaven.” His plays have been staged at the California Shakespeare Theatre and Yale Repertory Theatre. His new anthology, “The River Plays,” has been published by NoPassPort Publishing. He is currently working on commissions for the Magic Theatre SF and Yale Repertory Theatre.
Patricia Wakida is a writer, linoleum block artist, and bibliophile. She has worked as a literary and community historian in California for over a decade. She is the editor of two publications on the Japanese American experience, “Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American Internment Experience,”
P.J. Palmer is a veteran filmmaker with more than 20 award-winning film projects to his credit, including production on the NBC show “E.R.” P.J. was a ground-level disaster relief volunteer in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, while filming the documentary “American Red Cross: Katrina Relief.” He is currently working on “For Ed Ricketts,” a documentary that explores the lasting influences of Ed Ricketts, John Steinbeck and Joseph Campbell.
The artists will be blogging throughout the Journey at www.GrapesofWrath75.org. They will invite public collaboration and feedback through multiple social media channels. This entire trip will be documented and shared as part of the 75th Anniversary celebration in 2014.
In a special collaboration with Penguin Group (USA), the uniquely designed Penguin Book Truck will be travelling with the National Steinbeck Center. Our partners at Penguin will be stopping at selected locations to sell Steinbeck titles.
To stay up-to-date on this journey and to follow us when we are on the road in October, visit us at www.steinbeck.org.
About the National Steinbeck Center
The National Steinbeck Center is located at One Main Street in Salinas, California, the birthplace of John Steinbeck. It is a museum and cultural institution with a mission to engage people in the exploration of culture, issues and the arts relevant to our times, inspired by the words of John Steinbeck. The Center offers multiple visitor experiences: