StoryWorks, The Arizona Daily Star and Borderlands Theater present


Written by Milta Ortiz Directed by Jennifer Welch

videography by Adam Cooper-Teran Movement choreography Milta Ortiz

Inspired by the reporting of Arizona Daily Star reporters
Patty Machelor, Perla Trevizo, Emily Bregel and Sarah Garrecht Gasse

Cycles is a documentary play created in partnership with StoryWorks and is based on the Arizona Daily Star’s year-long investigation into Arizona’s foster care system. Set in Tucson, Cycles follows the lives of an unlikely pair of teens who bond at Pima County’s juvenile detention facility and support each other as they struggle to navigate the state’s system.

As with all StoryWorks plays, this story is factual and verified, all the characters are based on real people and no names have been changed. It is our intention to transform the investigative reporting into art on stage and share this story with young people across Pima County. Inspiring a public conversation on the realities of our broken system and the impact it is having on the future of our community. Following the StoryWorks model, ​Cycles​ is two acts. The first act is the livestream play and the second act is a community conversation that immediately follows. During this conversation, the audience has the opportunity to ask questions of the reporters who investigated the story, juvenile care professionals and the creative team.


Thursday, August 27 at 7 p.m. (Arizona Daily Star Facebook & Youtube pages)

Reserve Tickets at

FEATURING: Lilianna Espinoza, Katie McFadzen, Natalia Storie, Sarah Marie Gonzalez and Stacey Posey

Production Team

Jennifer Welch is a documentary artist and creator of StoryWorks, a groundbreaking documentary theater company that transforms investigative journalism into theater and audio dramas. Since launching StoryWorks in 2013, Welch has developed plays with Reveal and The Center for Investigative Reporting, HuffPost, The Kansas City Star, NJTV, KCPT, the Arizona Daily Star and Mississippi Today. Each play has reached a different region of the country and helped to drive social change by exposing America’s structural inequality and the costs of human injustice. In doing so, her work reveals not only the factual truths, which are verified by deep investigative reporting but the emotional revelations that theater conveys. She is also a contributing producer for “Reveal,” the Peabody Award-winning public radio show and podcast from CIR and PRX. Welch is a 2017 recipient of the Midwest Innocence Project’s Sean O’Brien Freedom Award and was named a 2019 ​Preserver of Mississippi Culture ​by the Mississippi Humanities Council. She is based in San Francisco, California and Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Milta Ortiz is a theater maker and writer from the Bay Area, who now calls Tucson home. She mostly works as a playwright, sometimes as poet, performer, director, or writer. Currently she’s working on a play about twins raised on different sides of the border, commissioned by Pima Community College, and a memoir with spoken word poetry about growing up Salvi. Recently, she directed The Sun Serpent at Pima Community College. Her play Judge Torres premiered to a sold out run at Milagro Theater in January 2019, and continued on to a college national tour. She received NEA and NALAC grants to develop and produce her play, Sanctuary, which premiered to a sold out run at Borderlands Theater in September 2018. She devised, wrote and directed Solving for X for the Working Classroom (2016-17.) Her play, Más, was produced at Su Teatro (March 2017,) and co-produced by Laney College (March, 2016) and Ubuntu Theater Project (May 2016.) Más premiered to a sold out run at Borderlands Theater (September 2015) and was nominated for a Steinberg-ATCA Award, toured Arizona Universities (in 2016/17) and was produced at San Diego State University (November 2018.) Más was developed at Borderlands Theater through an NNPN residency, NALAC and TPAC grants, and produced thanks to NEA funding. Other produced plays include the 21st, 20th, 19th, and 18th annual, A Tucson Pastorela, Sonoran Shadows, Disengaged, Fleeing Blue and solo play Scatter My Red Underwear. Milta teaches theater at Pima Community College. She earned an M.F.A. from Northwestern University’s Writing for the Screen and Stage program, and a Creative Writing B.A. from San Francisco State University. She is associate artistic director at Borderlands Theater and mom to a creative first grader.

Adam Cooper-Terán (ACT) is a critically-acclaimed video, sound, and multimedia artist from Tucson, Arizona, better known for their collaborations with various theater companies, performance artists, musicians, rabble-rousers, and activists. Their work has featured across the globe in universities, museums, basements, and streets as large-scale projections, musical interventions, and installations of digital storytelling. As a performer, Adam incorporates live video and audio mixing into ritualized improvisations, which have led to highly personal and political spectacles rooted in ceremony and social justice. For more information and overview of their work, visit ANTRAL.NET.


Stacey Posey is a Tucsonian pursuing a degree in Theatre Arts. With her degree she’ll get a Teacher Certificate for secondary education. Ms. Posey is currently attending UA. She recently received her Associates Degree at Pima Community College (PCC). She has performed in PCC, Tartuffe, as Madame Pernelle and Singin’ In The Rain, as Assistant Director #3 . While working on Tartuffe, she took in two jobs as an actress and Prop Master. She has done Tech as a Prop Master for Mama Mia, Assistant Stage Manager twice for Polaroid Stories & The Sun Serpent and  Costume Designer for The Sun Serpent. She would like to thank her family, and her theatre family at PCC.

Lilianna Espinoza  (Aracely) This is her second play, the first she played as Amoxtli in Pima Community College’s Production of The Sun Serpent. She has also been in two short films called Dysphasia and Saria. Lilianna is a Tucson born native who study’s film at Pima Community College and plans to further her education in Film. On her free time she enjoys writing, singing songs and painting.

Katie McFadzen  is an Associate Artist with Childsplay and has worked as an actor, teaching artist, and director with the company since 1993.  Favorite Childsplay acting credits include: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Ella Enchanted, Flora & Ulysses, Seussical, The BFG, and Getting Near to Baby. Additional acting credits include: A Year With Frog and Toad with Childsplay/Seattle Children’s Theatre; Lost and Foundling with Childsplay/Geva Theatre; Mamma Mia, Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson, and The Women with Phoenix Theatre; Good People, The Pursuit of Happiness, and Parallel Lives: The Kathy and Mo Show with Actors Theatre; How the Other Half Loves, The Great Gatsby, and a one-woman version of A Christmas Carol with Arizona Theatre Company (also produced at Childsplay in 2017); Rasheeda Speaking and The Wedding Band with Black Theatre Troupe; Small Mouth Sounds, Speech and Debate and The Year of the Rooster with Stray Cat Theatre. Directing credits include: The Trump Card and The Cake with Stray Cat Theatre; The Snowy Day and Other Stories with Childsplay; and The Way North and The Mysterious Disappearance for The Phoenix Theatre Company’s Festival of New Works.  Katie holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting/Directing from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre for Youth from Arizona State University.  She is a Faculty Associate in ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law where she co-teaches Persuasive Speech.

Natalia Storie is grateful to be a part of this production with Storyworks. She studied theater at the University of Arizona and in international workshops in London. Natalia’s a member of the International Thespian Society and has worked locally with TADA, Beowulf Theatre Company, Winding Road Theater Ensemble, SheWorxxx, and most recently with Borderlands Theater as an actor and most recently as a board member. She has also participated in Tucson’s Fringe Festival co-writing and costarring as one half of comedy duo, ‘Nickels and Dimes’.

Sarah Marie Haro is happy to work with StoryWorks and with Borderlands Theater again after going on tour with Richard Montaya’s Nogales.

Stage Manager and Assistant Stage Manager

Kayla Banks is a Houstonian, who is an up and coming actress, playwright and filmmaker. She is a current Senior at Dillard University working towards her Bachelor’s degree of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts with a concentration in Performance. Miss Banks is an intern with StoryWorks theatre company assisting them on the journey of transforming lives through plays and audio dramas.

Saun’Rae Nez is delighted to be apart of the production team of “Cycles”. Saun’Rae is from the Navajo Nation Reservation and has moved to Tucson, Arizona to increase her acting opportunities and expand on her acting skills.

StoryWorks Theater

is a documentary theater company that engages artists with journalists throughout the process to create original plays that reveal emotional, as well as factual ​t​ruths of investigative reporting.​ ​The intention of StoryWorks is not to re-create the reporting on stage but to transform it into a theatrical work of art. ​Since launching this national project in 2013, StoryWorks has developed twelve new plays with ​Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, HuffPost, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Kansas City Star, NJTV, KCPT, The Arizona Daily Star and Mississippi Today. To visit website click HERE!

Supporting Partners

Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, USC Annenberg/Center for Health Journalism, ProPublica and The Solutions Journalism Network. Support for this project was made possible in part by Projecting All Voices, a program of ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and ASU Gammage, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Arizona Daily Star Reporters

Patty Machelor covers issues pertaining to children and families as well as people living with disabilities. She previously reported on court cases, with an emphasis on juvenile court. She has worked for the Arizona Daily Star since 2001.

Perla Trevizo is a reporter for ProPublica in Texas. She previously was a member of the Arizona Daily’s Star investigative team, focusing on border and immigration. She is the recipient of the Dori J. Maynard Award for Diversity in Journalism, French-American Foundation Immigration Journalism Award, and a national Edward R. Murrow for a story done in collaboration with Arizona Public Media. She has also been a Livingston and Peabody award finalist.

Sarah Garrecht Gassen​ is the Opinion Editor and a columnist at the Arizona Daily Star and directs the Star’s Apprentice and Internship program. She teaches at the University of Arizona School of Journalism and regularly appears on public affairs radio and television. Sarah earned her master’s degree in journalism in 2010 from the UA with a focus on disability as a newsroom diversity issue. She’s worked with the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, advised high school instructors on opinion writing and blended journalism with youth development through work with a non-profit youth writing program.

Emily Bregel is a Baltimore native who has worked for 11 years as a reporter for daily newspapers in Tucson and Chattanooga, Tenn. She is currently living in Sonora, Mexico, where she works as a freelance reporter, English teacher and occasional organic farmer.