2019/2020

Their Dogs Came with Them 

by Helena Maria Viramontes

adapted for the stage by Virginia Grise

Directed by Kendra Ware

OCTOBER 18 – 20, 2019

Friday & Saturday: Doors 5:30pm Showtime 6:00pm

Sunday: Doors 1:30pm Showtime 2:00pm

No Late Seating

JULIAN WASH ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK, 2820 S. 12th Ave

Advance Tickets $20 General Admission $25 at the door

Advance Reservations Recommended. Limited seating.

Purchase Tickets HERE.
What happens to a community, and the people that live there, when a series of four intersecting freeways are built right through the heart of their neighborhood? 

From the award-winning writer of Your Healing is Killing Me, blu, The Panza Monologues and Barrio Stories, Virginia Grise returns to Tucson with a new play about the destruction and displacement of a Mexican-American community, roaming dogs, quarantines, earthmovers and ancient voladores: Their Dogs Came with Them. Adapted from the novel by Helena María Viramontes, the play ascribes new meanings to gang life dramas, gender queer identities, and Chicana/o/x coming of age barrio tales. Much like the structure of a freeway, the lives of four youth intersect and intertwine, unearthing stories about the effects and aftereffects of the Vietnam War, displacement, and state violence. Tucson, where the most diverse and densely populated neighborhoods were destroyed to create the Convention Center in the late 1960s, is an ideal site for a play that asks its community to consider how decisions around city planning and urban development impact everyone. Borderlands Theater, in collaboration with a todo dar productions, is producing this site-specific performance October 18-20, directed by Marc David Pinate and aptly staged underneath the I-19 freeway in South Tucson.  

Musical director Martha Gonzalez of the Grammy Award winning band Quetzal brings together band members Juan Perez (bass), Tylana Enomoto (violin) and legendary guitarist Bob Robles (Thee Midnighters) to perform an original score, specifically composed for the Tucson production, live at all performances. The musical score expresses the “East Los” sonic landscape of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The multifaceted sounds and songs of the score embody “East Los” history in an amalgamation of Mexican boleros, classic rock, doo-wop, R&B, and gospel. Like the 5, 10, and 710 freeways these sounds intersect in the heart of the Mexican American experience brought to life in Their Dogs Came with Them.  

Grise’s partnership with Borderlands began in 2015, when she wrote a series of 20 vignettes for the Barrio Stories Project in Barrio Viejo. Later that year, Borderlands together with the National New Play Network (NNPN) commissioned Grise to write Their Dogs Came with Them. In 2017, she received an Agnese Nelms Haury Visiting Fellowship from the University of Arizona and additional support from NNPN to workshop an early draft of the script with community members in Arizona, whose own lived experiences mirrored the lives of many of the characters in the play. Through this support, she began a series of workshops inside Perryville Women’s Prison in Goodyear, Arizona and created a unique page to stage process of development for Their Dogs Came with Them, culminating in a world premiere production at the prison’s Santa Cruz Unit in February 2019.  

THE PROCESS

In 2015, Borderlands Theater commissioned Their Dogs Came with Them with funding from the National New Play Network (NNPN.) In 2017, Grise received an Agnese Nelms Haury Visiting Fellowship from the University of Arizona and additional support from NNPN to workshop an early draft of the script with community members in Arizona whose own lived experiences mirrored the lives of many of the characters in the play. With this support, Grise began a series of theater workshops inside Perryville Women’s Prison in Goodyear, Arizona and created a unique page to stage process of development for Their Dogs Came with Them that culminated in a world premiere production at the prison’s Santa Cruz Unit in February 2019. The production team included 17 actors from inside the prison and over 20 collaborating artists from around the country. The production team at Perryville also included two inside producers, a costume designer, stage manager, run crew and a dramaturge who worked closely with Grise in developing and editing the script. In addition, set designer Tanya Orellana, choreographer Marguerite Hemmings, musical director Martha Gonzalez, and Grise taught workshops on each of their areas of expertise at the prison, in an attempt to make the process of theatre production transparent and accessible. 

In 2019, Grise received a $25,000 Mentorship Award from the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, the largest grant ever awarded by the organization, to continue working with theater artist Manny Rivera, who originated the role of Turtle at the first table reading. Rivera will play Turtle in the Tucson production. An instrumental collaborator in the developmental process, Rivera travelled with Grise to play development workshops at Borderlands, Perryville, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, in addition to directing one of the character tracks at Perryville. Through their collaboration, Grise and Rivera aim to continue an intergenerational conversation amongst queer communities of color exploring how artistic work can be produced across borders and beyond bars. 

Their Dogs Came with Them was commissioned by Borderlands Theater with funding from the National New Play Network.This production is supported in part by the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Southwest Airlines, and the Surdna Foundation through a grant from the NALAC Fund for the Arts Grant Program with additional funding from theNational Endowment for the Arts and the Latinx Theater Commons’ El Fuego Initiative, Southwest Folklife Alliance, and The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Arizona. The script was developed with the generous support of the Princess Grace Foundation, Humanities Behind the Walls, the Projecting All Voices Fellowship at Arizona State University, and a Network of Ensemble Theaters Travel Grant.

Learn more about the cast, crew, and creative team here.

Click below to watch the video trailer!

Thank You to our Sponsors!

  • Phoenix Translations
  • Department of Spanish and Portuguese
  • English Studies in Action 
  • Department of English
  • Creative Writing Program
  • The Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory

Barrio Stories Nogales

by Borderlands Theater Ensemble

Playwright, Milta Ortiz

Project director/shadow puppetry, Marc David Pinate

Media design, Adam Cooper-Terán

Giant puppet maker, Zarco Guerrero

Giant puppet director, Jonathan Heras

Community liaison/on-site producer, Cesar Lopez

April 2020

Downtown Nogales

A choose your own adventure site specific theatrical festival re-inhabits downtown Nogales with theatrical installations, large scale projections, music, based on oral histories from long time Ambos Nogales residents, and culminates with a couple alternating fronterizo bands.

The creative team is currently working with Nogalenses to create an authentic fronterizo experience. We’ll keep you posted on project updates.

Barrio Stories is a celebration of the history and heritage of Arizona’s historic Mexican-American neighborhoods. Conceived by Borderlands Theater in 2015, the project is an ongoing site-specific series intended to preserve and reflect the stories, people, and places that made these barrios so vital to the cultural fabric of the Southwest.