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Oct 23, 2016

Casa 0101 Theater, Josefina Lopez, Angel City Theater Ensemble Founder Vance Valencia Present The Los Angeles Premiere of MARIELA IN THE DESERT

Rachel Gonzalez, Vance Valencia, Vannessa Vasquez,
Randy Vasquez, Denise Blasor and Kenneth Miles Ellington Lopez

Five-Week Run:
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 5:00 p.m.
November 4 – December 11, 2016
(No Performances Thanksgiving Weekend: Nov. 25, 26 & 27) 


CASA 0101 Theater, Josefina López, Artistic Director and the newly formed production company, Angel City Theater Ensemble (ACTE), Vance Valencia, Founder, will present the Los Angeles Premiere of the critically acclaimed play "MARIELA IN THE DESERT," written by Karen Zacarías, directed by Robert Beltran (Star Trek: Voyager; Zoot Suit; Eating Raoul). 

“When is Art a Lie?” Mariela and Jose were once the golden couple of the Mexican artists’ inner circle. 

Together they built a family and an artist colony to host friends Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Rufino Tamayo. 

But now their daughter has grown up and run away, their friends are too famous to call, and artistic inspiration has been strangled by isolation and lies. 

Set in the northern Mexican desert in 1950, "MARIELA IN THE DESERT" is a deadly mystery—a layered yet profoundly honest story of what happens to a family when creativity is forced to dry and wither away.

The cast of six includes: Rachel Gonzalez (of North Hollywood) as Mariela Salvatierra; Vance Valencia (of Boyle Heights) as Jose Salvatierra; Vannessa Vasquez (of Van Nuys) as Blanca Salvatierra; Randy Vasquez (of West Hollywood) as Professor Adam Lovitz; Denise Blasor (of Reseda) as Oliva Salvatierra and Kenneth Miles Ellington Lopez (of North Hollywood) as Carlos Salvatierra.
Josefina López, Artistic Director of CASA 0101 Theater said, “It is an honor and privilege to present the Los Angeles Premiere MARIELA IN THE DESERT, written by pre-eminent playwright Karen Zacarías, who was recently singled out by American Theater Magazineas one of the Top Ten Most Produced Playwrights in the USA. It is equally exciting to be collaborating on this production with the newly formed Angel City Theater Ensemble.”
Vance Valencia, Founder of the newly formed Angel City Theater Ensemble (ACTE) said, “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to present the work of Karen Zacarías, who, along with playwright and screenwriter Josefina López, are among the most important Latina voices on the theatrical landscape today. This production of MARIELA IN THE DESERT marks the birth and first production of Angel City Theater Ensemble. ACTE is a group of professional actors pooling together their collective one hundred plus years of theater experience to serve the Latino community. It is our dream to fill a severe void in Latin American communities in Boyle Heights and beyond, and to bring the Canon of Classic American and World Theater to them with the works of American, European and Latin American authors such as Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, Eugene O’Neill, Eugène Ionesco, Harold Pinter, Luis Valdez and José Rivera, among others. Charter Members of ACTE include myself, as well as actors Daniel E. Mora, Denise Blasor and Randy Vasquez, the latter two whom appear with me in this production.”
Karen Zacarías said, “I wrote this story as an homage to my Grandmother….and all the women in our lives who have held back on a dream for their family. I wrote this for my Grandfather…because he too had blessings and burdens. I wrote this to come to terms with the pulls of being an artist and a mother. I wrote this to show a very real Mexican family that we usually do not see on TV. It’s a universal story of parents and children…full of humor and love and, yes, pain.”
“Love, commitment, creativity, sacrifice and redemption. These are ideas that resonate throughout the play,” Robert Beltran, the director of this production, said. “It is the story of one woman’s struggle to protect and nurture her children, and to stay true to her husband. In the end she finds redemption through her sacrifice, and frees herself to live a life in creativity.”
Opening Night is Friday, Nov. 4 at 8:00 p.m. 

The play will be presented for a five-week run on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 5:00 p.m. from November 4 – December 11, 2016 on the Main Stage at CASA 0101 Theater, 2012 East First Street (at St. Louis Street across the street from the Hollenbeck Police Station), Boyle Heights, CA 90033. There will be no performances on Thanksgiving Weekend, November 25th, 26th and 27th.

Tickets during the six-week run are $25 per person for General Admission; $20 per person for Students and Seniors; and $15 per person for Boyle Heights residents. This show is recommended for mature audiences. Advance reservations are highly encouraged.

Free Parking is available on several streets surrounding the theatre. Free Parking is also available on Fridays and Saturdays only at the Boyle Heights City Hall Parking Lot located at 2130 East First Street (at Chicago Street) by entering the lot from Chicago Street; the lot is closed on Sundays. For tickets, please call the CASA 0101 Theater Box Office at 323-263-7684, E-mail tickets@casa0101.org, or buy online at www.casa0101.org. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/casa0101theater.

Concurrently with the run of the play The Jean Deleage Art Gallery located in the lobby of CASA 0101 Theater will be presenting the art exhibit, “Diaspora Manifestations from the Heart: Presencia Salvadoreña,” featuring the works of three artists, Dora Magana, Margoth Abregoand Ricardo Garcia O’Meany. Each artist shares a common experience of a forced departure from their homeland El Salvador during the civil war conflict. The techniques used by the artists range from oil paintings, acrylic on canvas, to drawings on paper. Each artwork is charged with emotion, memory and denouncement. From figurative paintings to abstract manifestations all join together to share their hopes, dreams and struggles. The exhibit is curated by Jimmy Centeno.

About The Play:
MARIELA IN THE DESERT is the winner of the National Francesca Primus Emerging Female Playwright Award, National Latino Playwrights’ Award and was a Finalist for the International Susan Smith Blackburn Award. Commissioned by South Coast Repertory Company, the play received its World Premiere at The Goodman Theater in Chicago, IL in January – February 2005. The play as also been presented at The Denver Center, the Theater of the First Amendment and Milagro Theater, among others.

Karen Zacarías’s MARIELA IN THE DESERT is a critically acclaimed play. The Washington Post wrote, “With motifs that include the purpose of art, the bitterness of failure and the hard choices that have historically faced women, ‘Mariela’ is a substantive play as well as an elegantly crafted one,” while the Denver Post wrote, “It’s a play much like the family that lives in it. Think of a fraying blanket with many loose threads. Pull just one, and you fear it might just fall apart. That it never does – the family or the play – is writer Karen Zacarías’ achievement. Her characters are fully drawn and her dialogue is infused with a color all its own ‘Mariela in the Desert,’ lingers in the mind like the sandy desert air.”

About The Playwright, Director and Cast of MARIELA IN THE DESERT:
Karen Zacarías (Playwright) was recently hailed by American Theater Magazine as one of the Top Ten Most Produced Playwrights in the USA. Zacarías, a Helen Hayes Award-winning playwright, is currently working with director Jose Luis Valenzuela bringing her Telenovela comedy play with music, Destiny of Desire from its successful World Premiere at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. to a co-productions at South Coast Repertory in Orange County (through November 13, 2016) and The Goodman Theater in Chicago (March – April 2017).

Other plays written by Karen Zacarías to be produced in California this season include: Mariela in the Desert at Casa 0101 Theater in Boyle Heights November 4 – December 11, 2016; Into the Beautiful North at Central Stage, Berkley, October 2016 and San Diego Repertory in April 2017; and The Book Club Play in January 2017 at Jewel Theater Company in Santa Cruz. Other notable upcoming productions include Native Gardens at The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, at Victory Gardens in Chicago, and Vermont Stage.

Last year Karen Zacarías had five World Premieres: Destiny of Desire at Arena Stage; Native Gardens at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park; Oliverio: A Brazilian Twist at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; Ella Enchanted: The Musical at First Stage and Into the Beautiful North at Milagro Theater. Other award-winning plays including The Book Club Play, Legacy of Light, Mariela in the Desert, The Sins of Sor Juana, the adaptations of Just Like Us and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent and many more.

She collaborated on the libretto for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises for the Washington Ballet at The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and she has written 10 Theatre for Young Audiences musicals with composer Deborah Wicks La Puma (including Jane of the Jungle which premiered at South Coast Repertory in 2012). She is one of the inaugural resident playwrights at Arena Stage and is a core founder of the Latino Theatre Commons, a national network that strives to update the American narrative to including the stories of Latinos. She is the founder of Young Playwrights’ Theater, an award-winning theater company that teaches playwriting in local public schools in Washington, D.C. Karen Zacarías lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and three children.

Robert Beltran (Director) was born in Bakersfield, CA and currently resides in Los Feliz, CA. He is the seventh of 10 children of Mexican-Native American ancestry, though Beltran describes his heritage as Latindio. After finishing high school, he attended Fresno State College, where he graduated with a degree in Theater Arts. Beltran landed his first film role in Luis Valdez’s Zoot Suit in 1981. One year later, he landed the role of Raoul in Paul Bartel’s Eating Raoul.

Other appearances include: Gaby: A True Story, Nixon, and another Paul Bartel film, Scenes From The Class Struggle in Beverly Hills, among others. In the theatre, he is has appeared in productions for Luis Valdez’s El Teatro Campesino, where he originated the role of Sonny Villa in I Don’t Have To Show You No Stinking Badges. Other theatre appearances include work at Los Angeles Theatre Center and the California Shakespeare Festival among others.

Beltran founded and serves as co-artistic director of the East LA Classic Theater Group, with a staff of professional actors. There, he played Hamlet and served as co-producer as well as director. He has also appeared in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Henry IV, A Touch of Venusand The Price, among others. In 1995, he was chosen for the part of Commander Chakotay on the television show, Star Trek: Voyager. He also had a recurring role in Big Love for Home Box Office. At that time, he received a Nosotros Golden Eagle Award as Best Actor in a Television Series.

Beltran supports National Down Syndrome Society and has engaged over recent years in a series of classical drama workshops mainly on Shakespeare. He has also participated in several Schiller Institute conferences speaking on the subject of classical drama, most recently on his 2003 staging of Clifford Odets’ 1948 play The Big Knife.

In October/November 2014 he directed CASA 0101 Theater’s predominately all Latina/o cast of William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, which was also presented as part of Encuentro 2014, A National Latina/o Theatre Festival. Most recently, as an actor, Beltran was seen in the Latino Theater Company’s A Mexican Trilogy: An American Story written by Evelina Fernández.

Rachel Gonzalez (Mariela Salvatierra) has appeared in numerous starring roles as CASA 0101 Theater over the years, including the World Premiere of Josefina López’s play, Hungry Woman, in which she portrayed the central role of Canela Guerrero directed by Corky Dominguez, and in William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, appearing a Brutus, in production helmed by director Robert Beltran.

Vance Valencia (Jose Salvatierra and Founder of Angel City Theater Company) last appeared at CASA 0101 Theater in the title role of William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, directed by Robert Beltran. He has appeared in leading roles with a wide variety of companies including the Inner City Cultural Center, The Met, Hudson Theatre, Los Angeles Theatre Center and Taper Too. Television credits include: On Common Ground, Roswell, Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, Hunter and General Hospital.

Vannessa Vasquez (Blanca Salvatierra) was nominated for a 2015 Daytime Emmy Awardâ for her role of Camila Barrios on Hulu’s hit original teen drama series, East Los High. She was nominated for an Imagen Foundation Award for her portrayal of Magdalena Cruz in the film, Sins of a Call Girl. Other roles include Esperanza in the film Narca and Gracie in the action film Misfire. She studied at the Stella Adler Acting Conservatory and Upright Citizen’s Brigade and she holds a B.A. degree in Theatre and Psychology from the University of Houston. She was named one of the top eight leading ladies in the September 2016 issue of TV y Novelas Magazine. She is a spokesperson for the organization Ignite National, empowering girls and young women around the country to become civically and politically engaged. This is her first appearance with CASA 0101 Theater.

Randy Vasquez (Professor Adam Lovitz and Charter Member of Angel City Theater Ensemble) is making his CASA 0101 Theater debut in this production. Vasquez has appeared as Series Regular on the television shows, JAG, First Monday, The Love Boat: The Next Wave and Acapulco H.E.A.T. On stage he has appeared in New York at the Public Theatre, Harold Clurman Theater and Berkley Rep/Circle Rep. Locally in Los Angeles he has been seen on stage at the Redcat Theatre, Theatre 40, NoHo Arts Center, Macha Theatre, San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, Secret Rose Theater and Theater West.

Denise Blasor (Oliva Salvatierra and Charter Member of Angel City Theater Ensemble) is making her debut at CASA 0101 Theater. She has appeared extensively on stage with companies such as the Elephant Theatre, The Group at Strasberg, Stella Adler Theatre in New York, Fountain Theatre, The Old Globe, La Plaza de la Raza, The Getty Museum, Odyssey Theatre and Los Angeles Theatre Center. Her film, Dentro De La Casa De Bernarda Alba, was nominated by the Imagen Award Foundation in 2015 as Best Short. She appeared as Margarita Xirgu/Yerma in the film Death in Granada, also starring Andy Garcia and Esai Morales; the film won the Imagen Award for Best Motion Picture.

Kenneth Miles Ellington Lopez (Carlos Salvatierra) was last seen at CASA 0101 Theater in the leading role of Jimmy Ramirez in the musical Eastside Heartbeats. Born and raised in San Antonio, TX, he attended The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. He has appeared in The Christians at the Mark Taper Forum and Hit the Wall at the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center. He was most recently seen in the Latino Theater Company’s A Mexican Trilogy: An American Story written by Evelina Fernández.

The play’s Production Team includes: Josefina López (of Silver Lake), Artistic Director, CASA 0101 Theater, Producer; Vance Valencia (of Boyle Heights) Founder, Angel City Theater Ensemble; Emmanuel Deleage (of Silver Lake), Executive Director, CASA 0101 Theater, Producer; Edward Padilla (of Boyle Heights), Board President, CASA 0101 Theater, Casting Director; Robert Beltran (of Los Feliz), Director; Deena Tovar (of Los Angeles), Stage Manager; Marco DeLeon (of Los Angeles) Set Designer; Abel Alvarado (of Los Angeles) Costume Designer; Kevin Vasquez (of San Fernando Valley) Lighting Designer; Vincent Sanchez (of Commerce) Sound Designer and CASA 0101 Theater Facilities Manager; Alexander Cooper (of Koreatown) Property Master; YeeEun Nam (of Miracle Mile) Projection Design; Sohail e. Najafi(of Culver City), CASA 0101 Theater Technical Director; Jorge Villanueva (of Boyle Heights), Light Board Operator; Mark Kraus (of Los Angeles) CASA 0101 Theater Administrator and Webmaster; Lupe Arrelanes (of Los Angeles) CASA 0101 Theater Marketing; Jimmy Centeno(of Los Angeles) Art Exhibit Curator; Gabriela López de Dennis, Soap Studio Inc. (of Los Angeles), Key Artwork Design and Program; Ed Krieger (of La Crescenta), Production Photographer and Steve Moyer Public Relations (of Los Angeles), Press Representative.

CASA 0101 Theater’s sponsors include: Bloomberg Philanthropies, The California Endowment, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and The Herb Alpert Foundation.

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