WELCOME MESSAGE FROM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Welcome to Southwest Shakespeare Company’s Spring Rep – O WONDER! We are so pleased to be back at Taliesin West.

In a year of big news, the most exciting is the arrival of our new Artistic Director, Debra Ann Byrd. When you see her, please say hello.
Debra Ann began her career in Harlem where she was Producing Artistic Director and founder of two acclaimed performing arts companies: Take Wing And Soar Productions and Harlem Shakespeare Festival. Of late DAB has been touring the world with her solo show, a tour that kicked off with us during her three-year term as SSC Artist-in-Residence. Venues included Lincoln Center summer 2021 as well as Prague Shakespeare in the Czech Republic. As a Board member of the Shakespeare Theatre Association, recipient of the prestigious Sidney Berger Award, a fellow at The Folger
Institute, Columbia University and Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust, Debra Ann brings a wealth of expertise and skill to our company.

We couldn’t be happier and are poised to announce our 2022/23 Season, which we will do in the coming days! In the meantime, we hope to see you at both our final productions for this season, SHALL I COMPARE THEE: THE SONNETS and MOJADA: A MEDEA IN LOS ANGELES, both playing at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West in North Scottsdale. There is no short cut. If you would like to see us have a healthy future, we need you to come!

Of course, if you feel inspired to give us a lift, we always appreciate your support. Every seat in the house is subsidized to help keep tickets affordable to everyone. Our largest audience is students. Each student ticket is subsidized by a least $58. We have no sponsorship for our educational programming. We must raise the funds ourselves. Seeing a live classical play increases engagement in school by 40% and improves comprehension, critical thinking, and empathy by up to 90%.

Thank you for joining us in a noble mission. And enjoy the show!

Good wishes,


Mary Coleman Way
Executive Director

EXPLORE MOJADA: A MEDEA IN LOS ANGELES

Select an option below to learn more about MOJADA: A MEDEA IN LOS ANGELES

Mojada: Medea in Los Angeles holds a special place in my heart. My first show with Southwest Shakespeare was in 2010 as a voice and text coach. This production marks my 12 -year history as a voice and text coach with the company, my directorial debut with the company, and it marks the first show produced by Southwest Shakespeare that is written by a Latinx playwright with a Latinx cast and a majority of Latinx creatives.

Latinx representation on stage and screen has remained disproportionately low despite the population growth. It is a vicious cycle that is disheartening and unacceptable, and I am proud to be part of a company that is championing the visibility of Latinx artists. Thank you, Debra Ann Bryd and Mary Way, for intentionally centering Southwest Shakespeare Latinx company members.

Mojada is part of Alfaro’s Greek trilogy, and this masterpiece illustrates the universality and timelessness of the classics. Also, the play illuminates the distribution of sadness in the Latinx Community. We weep for everyone. With thousands of migrants waiting at the US/Mexico border for asylum, I firmly believe that we must bring to light the marginalization of women and the struggle and consequences of immigration so that we may question worldwide systems of power and oppression and do better.

Medea in Los Angeles represents the rage and pent anger of generational trauma and servitude under the patriarchy. But unfortunately, her righteous anger can only lead to violence because bad things happen when society turns its back on its most vulnerable. May this parable fuel our righteous movement toward justice and freedom.

THE CAST

Bethany Bacca
MEDEA

Gustavo A. Flores
JASON

Angela Gonzalez
ARMIDA/SOLDIER 2

Greta Skelly
TITA

Alejandra Luna
JOSEFINA

Carlos Sanchez Beltran
ACAN

Hamblet J. Lemus
UNIVERSAL MAN/SOLDIER

 

THE CREATIVE TEAM

MOJADA: A MEDEA IN LOS ANGELES

Playwright
Luis Alfaro

Director
Micha Espinosa

Dramaturg
Dr. Tiffany Lopez

Asst. Dramaturg
Max Plata

Vocal Coach
Adriano Cabral

Costume Designer
Jessica Young

Sound Designer
Natalie Payán

Lighting Designer
Stacey Walston

Props Designer
Beau Heckman

Media Designer
Will Rogers

Technical Director
Stacey Walston

THE PRODUCTION TEAM

Stage Manager/Media Operator
MJ Beckett

Asst. Stage Manager
Dylan Prentis

Sound Board Operator
Emmy Antillon

Light Board Operator
Sunshine McKissick

Spot Operator
Marco Monacchio

SOUTHWEST SHAKESPEARE STAFF

Executive Director
Mary Coleman Way

Artistic Director
Debra Ann Byrd

Producing Director
Stacey Walston

Business Manager
Janine Donnovan

Education Director
Steve Abaroa

Education Liaison
Susan Freestone

BETHANY BACA (Medea) is from Phoenix, AZ who graduated from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA with a B.A. in Theater Arts. Some of her credits include: The Burn as Mercedes at BLK BOX PHX, Tecumseh! as Wabethe at Tecumseh! Outdoor Drama in Chillicothe, OH; In the Heights as Carla at Desert Foothills Theatre & Southwest Shakespeare’s productions of Frankenstein & Pericles, Prince of Tyre. She has received First place in the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition in the Adult Musical Theater division in 2017 & 2018 as well as First place in the National Society of Arts and Letters Musical Theater Competition in 2017 & Drama Competition in 2019. Instagram @bethany.m.baca

 

GUSTAVO A. FLORES (Jason) is a Phoenix based artist and alumni of GCU’s College of Fine Arts & Production. Ending a 3rd season with The Southwest Shakespeare Company, he’s ecstatic to be bringing life to Luis Alfaro’s MOJADA. Notable past productions w/SSC include Farinelli and the King, Complete Works (Abridged) [SOCIALLY DISTANT]; A Feminine Ending w/The Bridge Initiative; Hamlet, Midsummer, and As You Like It w/Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival; and Ring Round The Moon, Macbeth, One Man Two Guvnors & The Tempest w/Ethington Theatre. Big ‘Thank You’ to YOU for being here. Let’s get some catharsis going.

 

ANGELA KABASAN-GONZALEZ (Armida) is a theatre student at MCC where she just placed 2nd in the Maricopa Community College’s Artist of Promise competition in the theatre/acting category. She was previously in Gin Mummy at MCC and will be voicing Francis Flute/Thisbe in Tier5 Theatre Co’s animated adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream later this year! Love to Mark, Bailey, the cast, the crew!   

 

HAMBLET J. LEMUS (Universal Man/Soldier) is a 22-year-old Latine actor from Phoenix, AZ and a graduate in Fine-Arts Theater. Involved in theater from a young age, Hamblet has served as an actor, director, playwright, and sound designer. Hamblet is a four-time Irene Ryan nominee, and an Irene Ryan semi-finalist for KCACTF 2020. He has previously portrayed the roles of Henry Baskerville in Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, Andrew Jackson Sr. in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and Pablo Picasso in Picasso at the Lapin Agile, among others. He is honored to be participating in this production.

 

ALEJANDRA LUNA (Josephina) is a Mexican born actor and director. She holds a BFA in Acting from Western Michigan University and is currently a core ensemble member for Teatro Bravo, Arizona’s first Latinx theatre company. She was in Teatro Bravo’s production of Fade as Lucia before it got cancelled as the pandemic started. This is her first time back on the stage as an actor since the pandemic and she couldn’t be more thrilled this is the story she gets to be a part of to come back to. Alejandra recently directed Three’s a Party at Mesa Community College and A Christmas Carol at Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival. Alejandra is passionate about increasing opportunities on and off the stage for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) artists, expand BIPOC audience members to attend shows and making shows more accessible to attend to. She will continue to work to increase those numbers in her community. Website: alejandracluna.com

 

GRETA SKELLY (Tita) was born in Peru. Greta has performed in numerous Operas, Zarzuelas, Musicals, TV series, telenovelas, theater, films, commercials, among other productions. Some of her favorites are “The Man of the Mancha”, “The Sound of Music”, and most recently, “In the Heights”.  Greta is dedicated to promoting Latin American music. She was the Spokesperson of Opera Ariizona through the “Viva la Opera” videos broadcasted on Univision.  Greta has been awarded the Peruvian Pride Award and been nominated three times for the Arizoni Awards and the Governor’s Award.  Greta holds a Masters of Education and PostGraduate Studies in School Counseling.

 

CARLOS SANCHEZ BELTRAN (Acan) is thrilled to be making his Southwest Shakespeare Company debut in this incredible show. Carlos is a freshman at Barrett, the Honors College at ASU currently working on his Justice Studies bachelor’s with a theatre minor. Some past credits include: Ted Hinton (Bonnie & Clyde), Jack (The Importance of Being Earnest), Mr.Boddy (Clue), and Mcdoon (The Trail to Oregon). You may have recently seen him in “Bonnie and Clyde” at Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre. He is honored to be working with such a stellar cast and be able to deliver this intense story to audiences. He would like to thank the director, Micha Espinosa for giving such incredible direction to this show as well as the production team & SSC for creating this masterpiece. He plans to continue his theatre journey throughout the valley to be able to keep telling stories like this one and ultimately keep practicing this form of art.

 

LUIS ALFARO (Playwright) is a Chicano playwright born and raised blocks from USC in the Pico-Union district of downtown Los Angeles.  Alfaro is the recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.  He has also received recognition from: the PEN America/Laura Pels International Foundation Theater Award for a Master Dramatist; United States Artist Fellowship; Ford Foundation’s Art of Change Fellowship; Joyce Foundation Fellowship; Mellon Foundation Fellowship, and the Annenberg Artist-in-Residence for the city of Santa Monica; among others. Alfaro spent six seasons as the inaugural playwright-in-residence of the 90-year-old Oregon Shakespeare Festival (2013-2019); a member of the Playwright’s Ensemble at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theatre (2013-2020); a resident artist at the Mark Taper Forum (1995-2005); an inaugural member of the Latinx Playwrights ‘Circle of Imaginistas’ at the Los Angeles Theatre Center (2021); and has worked with the Ojai Playwrights Conference since 2002. His plays and performances include Electricidad, Oedipus El Rey, Mojada, Delano, Body of Faith, Straight as a Line, and have been seen at regional theatres throughout the United States, Latin America, Canada and Europe. Alfaro spent over two decades in the Los Angeles Poetry and Performance Art communities. 

 

MICHA ESPINOSA (Director) is an international teaching artist, activist, and voice specialist in culturally inclusive pedagogies. She’s a professor at Arizona State University and affiliate faculty with ASU’s School of Transborder Studies & the Sidney Poitier New American Film School. Espinosa is also the Lead Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework (FV), trainer for the FV Teacher Certification & Artistic Director for FV Institute, and holds a BFA from Stephens College and an MFA in Acting from U.C. San Diego). She is an award-winning editor of Monologues for Latino Actors & Scenebook for Latinx Actors, as well as a core member of Guillermo Gomez Pena’s performance art collective, La Pocha Nostra. She is passionate about social justice in actor training, global and feminist perspectives, and the voz (voice) cultural.

 

TIFFANY ANA LÓPEZ (Dramaturge) specializes in Latinx theater and has worked with Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF), Artists Repertory Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Arizona Theatre Company, Cornerstone, CASA 0101, and Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble. She was dramaturge for OSF and Portland Center Stage productions of Mojada; and Isaac Gomez’s La Ruta (ART) and Octavio Solis’ Mother Road (OSF). She is a 2022 recipient of an “AZ 48” award as one of Arizona’s 48 Most Intriguing Women Leaders; and ipublished in Encuentro – Latinx Performance for the New American Theater (2019). Her anthology, Growing Up Chicana/o (1993), is on the syllabus for John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons.

 

MAXWELL PLATA (Assistant Dramaturg) is an early career dramaturg and playwright graduating from Arizona State University in May with his Bachelor’s degree in theatre. As a dramaturg, he’s worked on the School of Music, Dance and Theatre productions of Liz Lerman’s Healing Wars and Matthew Paul Olmos’s the living’life of the daughter mira. Also a stage manager, Max works at ASU Music Theatre and Opera and around the valley. Favorite stage management credits include Godspell and 35mm: A Musical Exhibition. Max thanks Micha, Tiffany, his mentor Dr. Karen Jean Martinson, and all the folks at Southwest Shakespeare for welcoming him!

 

NATALIE PAYÁN (Sound Designer) is thrilled to be making her Southwest Shakespeare debut through sound on this production. Though currently based in Philadelphia, she has worked with many theatre companies around the valley including, but not limited to Teatro Bravo, Stray Cat Theatre, Childsplay, Mesa Community College, and more! Natalie is working on her bachelors in directing and has a variety of theatre credits encompassing acting, costume design & construction, stage managing, and sound design of course. She would like to thank you all for supporting the arts, especially a piece that represents the Latine community she is a part of. ¡Disfruta el espectáculo!

 

ADRIANO CABRAL (Dialect Coach) Adriano “Adi” Cabral (they/them) is a dialect coach, intimacy director, actor, audiobook narrator, and professor of Voice and Movement at the University of Nevada, Reno. Adi has worked with companies around the country including the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities (CO), Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (MO), New Repertory Theatre (MA), Central Square Theatre (MA), Stella Adler Studio of Acting (NY), Mildred’s Umbrella Theatre Company (TX), New Hazlett Theater (PA), and Hangar Theatre Company (NY). They are a certified teacher of Knight-Thompson Speechwork and Fitzmaurice Voicework. For more information, please visit www.AdiCabral.com.

 

BEAU HECKMAN (Properties Designer/ Camera Operator) has been involved with Southwest Shakespeare Company for many years and has been seen in such valley favorites as Farinelli and the King, King John, Hysteria, Equivocation, Pericles, and The Taming of the Shrew. Beau is the host of Story Time Classics Live for Southwest Shakespeare’s YouTube page and has also designed props for such SSC productions as The Tempest, Farinelli and the King, Hamlet, Macbeth, The Mystery of Irma Vep, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Richard II.  Beau made his directorial debut this past season with the virtual production of Pericles, Prince of Tyre, and wrote, designed and starred in Legends Of! The Werewolf. Other Acting credits include: The Producers and Les Miserables for Phoenix Theatre; The Phantom of the Melodrama and the Holiday Extravaganza for the Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville in Oceano, California.  A very special thank you to Stacey Walston and all of Southwest Shakespeare Company for helping bring theater back.

 

MARISSA “MJ” BECKETT (Production Stage Manager; they/them) MJ has been doing stage craft since their sophomore year of high school and stage management the last 6 years all around The Valley. You may have also seen them working for Showcase Community Theatre, The Bridge Initiative, or Paradise Valley Community College. They would like to thank their family, friends, amazing partner, as well as Mojada’s cast and crew for their continued support. Break Legs!

 

DYLAN PRENTIS (Assistant Stage Manager) is a graduate of ASU’s Herberger Institute for the Arts. Recent shows include: Shall I Compare Thee: The Sonnets  (Southwest Shakespeare Company), Farinelli and the King (Southwest Shakespeare Company), The Tempest (Southwest Shakespeare Company) Barefoot in the Park (Mesa Encore Theatre), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Mesa Encore Theatre), We Cried along Before The Teargas (Cadenza Theatre), Into the Woods (Mesa Encore Theatre), and Trade Trade Love (Arizona State University).

 

DEBRA ANN BYRD (Artistic Director) Founder of the Harlem Shakespeare Festival, was recently appointed Artistic Director at Southwest Shakespeare Company.  She is an award winning classically trained actress, scholar and producer whose credits include: Writer-in-Residence at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Artist-in-Residence Fellow at the Folger Institute and an A’Lelia Bundles Community Scholar at Columbia University.  Debra Ann received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Marymount Manhattan College and is the 2021 recipient of the prestigious Sidney Berger Award presented to her by the Shakespeare Theatre Association for her work as a charismatic leader of Shakespearean theater throughout the world.

 

MARY COLEMAN WAY (Executive Director) currently serves as Executive Director at Southwest Shakespeare Company.  She has been with the theatre company for 7 years. Recently she has added the Artistic Directorship of Fit Via Vi Film Productions to her list of responsibilities.  Prior to that she served for 7 years as Co-Chair of ASU Gammage, one of the largest presenting theaters in North America.  While living in Japan, Mary was Chair of the CWAJ Print Show, the world’s largest exhibition and sale of Japanese Contemporary Prints, Tokyo, Japan.  And while living in the UK she served on the Development Board of London City Ballet, London, UK.  She began her career as a television field producer for NBC and later an on-air host for PBS. She is a trained classical singer and theater-maker — Is a member of the Lord’s Taverners in London — and is the recipient of a Governors’ Arts Award in Arizona.

SOUTHWEST SHAKESPEARE COMPANY (Producer) Now celebrating its 28th season, Southwest Shakespeare Company has been the standard-bearer for classical theatre in Arizona. Founded on a Mission to educate, elevate, entertain, and inspire the communities of the Southwest, SSC has transformed itself from a small, inspired company of local artist/educators into a theatrical institution of the American Southwest.  In its quarter-century SSC has expanded the classical audience in the Phoenix area beyond its home in Mesa to the communities and venues of Scottsdale, Tempe, Phoenix-proper, Peoria and more. In recent years SSC has even brought the larger world of the theatre to Arizona, hosting and presenting classical, literary-themed productions from across the country and around the world; from the Harlem Shakespeare Festival to the Fringe Festivals of Los Angeles and London, England. SSC is now, and always has been, a company guided by the theatrical vision of William Shakespeare: utilizing simple theatricality to cultivate audience imagination and participation in the fundamental human act of storytelling. These original principles are the reason for our formation, the blueprint for our future, and the story of our history.

Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles
— Dramaturgy by Dr. Tiffany Lopez and Max Plata


Luis Alfaro’s adaptation of the Greek play Medea explores the journey of a landowner’s daughter who has fled her father’s house to pursue the promise of a better life with her true love, Jason. It is a year since the two have migrated from Michoacán, Mexico, with their young son, Acan, and Tita, their family’s beloved, longtime housekeeper. In the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, Tita cares for the family, keeping a watchful eye on Acan as he grapples with assimilating into a new culture. Medea works as a seamstress, assembling garment pieces in the makeshift factory space of her yard, while Jason quickly rises from day laborer to contractor’s assistant for a wealthy older female boss. Secrets begin to percolate to the surface. Medea’s resilience is tested and then pushed to the breaking point as she struggles to navigate a legacy of trauma.

Warning: Mojada includes depictions of violence, references to rape, and addresses sensitive themes.

ALSO THIS SPRING