Jimmy Noriega and student cast members

Jimmy Noriega, assistant professor of theatre and dance at The College of Wooster (second from right), chats with student cast members from “Women of Ciudad Juárez” during a rehearsal session this week. The play will be performed at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) Region III competition Friday night in Milwaukee. (Photo by Matt Dilyard)


Wooster Production to be presented at Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival

‘Women of Ciudad Juárez’ chosen for regional performance Friday evening in Milwaukee

06 January, 2015 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — The College of Wooster's production of "Women of Ciudad Juárez," has been selected by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) to be presented at the annual Region III competition later this week in Milwaukee.

The play is a powerful tribute to the hundreds of women who were raped, tortured, and murdered during two decades of terror in the Mexican border city that lies south of El Paso, Texas. It was staged in Wooster's Freedlander Theatre last spring, following a tour of 11 college and university campuses in the United States and Canada that included Yale, Dartmouth, Cornell, Ithaca, Bucknell, Davidson, and Arizona State. The group worked and traveled under the name of Teatro Travieso (Troublemaker Theatre).

Written by Cristina Michaus, a famous Mexican film actress, documentary filmmaker, and playwright, the production was translated into English and directed by Jimmy A. Noriega, assistant professor of theatre and dance at Wooster.

The group will perform on Friday (Jan. 9) at 8 p.m. in Milwaukee's stately Pabst Theater, which seats 1,325. "It is an honor to have been selected as one of the top productions in our region," said Noriega. "The chance to tell these women's stories and present their names in front of such a large audience of theater students and professionals means so much to us."

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival honors achievements by theater programs in higher education. The organization sent two respondents to observe and critique the performance in Wooster last spring. "The judges were very much impressed by the overall production and work of the four actresses," said Noriega. "We were one of seven shows chosen from the region, which consists of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio. For a small college to complete against these larger schools is a testament to the work of our group and the department."

The production will feature the original four cast members from last spring: sophomore Marisa Adame, juniors Stephanie Castrejon and Summit Starr, and recent graduate Janna Haywood. They will be joined by senior Sidney Martin, who will take over as stage manager, replacing recent graduate Ben Pfister, who is attending graduate school.

Since 1993, hundreds of women, including factory workers, indigenous women, and young girls, have been brutally raped, tortured, and murdered in the industrial city, according to Noriega. "Showing multiple female perspectives of life in Juárez — from mothers and daughters, to factory workers and prostitutes — the play speaks out against all forms of violence against the female body and psyche," he said. "

I am really proud of our students," added Noriega. "Our group staged this play in the spring as a small, independent production and toured with the purpose of increasing awareness of these crimes against women. Our theatrical mission paid off in a way that has exceeded all of our expectations. Using theater to educate people and attempt to create positive change is what Teatro Travieso is all about, and it is very gratifying to be recognized for our work."

Established in 1969, the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities across the country. Its mission is to help improve the quality of college theater in the United States by encouraging, recognizing, and celebrating the finest and most diverse work produced in university and college theater programs. The KCACTF has grown into a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country, where theater departments and students have an opportunity to qualify for regional, and national festivals and celebrate the creative process. Since its inception, KCACTF has given more than 400,000 college theater students the opportunity to have their work critiqued, improve their dramatic skills, and receive national recognition for excellence. More than 16 million theatergoers have attended approximately 10,000 festival productions nationwide.