Their Dogs Came With Them

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


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.  

In 2019, Grise also 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 initiated the role of Turtle at the first table reading of the script and has become an instrumental collaborator in the developmental process, travelling with Grise to workshops at Borderlands, Perryville and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, in addition to directing one of the character tracks at Perryville. Manny will play Turtle in the Tucson production. 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 is supported in part by the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Southwest Airlines, the Surdna Foundation through a grant from the NALAC Fund for the Arts Grant Program with additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Latinx Theater Commons’ El Fuego Initiative, The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Arizona, and Southwest Folklife Alliance.  

**In an effort to make the performance accessible a golf cart is available for the 5 minute walk from parking to seating/staging area. 

For more information about the cast, crew, and creative team, click here.

Click below to watch the video trailer!

Adapted from THEIR DOGS CAME WITH THEM. Copyright © 2007 by Helena María Viramontes. Published by Washington Square Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, New York, NY. By permission of Stuart Bernstein Representation for Artists. All rights reserved.

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