I first met Marisela Treviño Orta at the Encuentro Theatre Festival in 2014. While we quickly hit it off, it wasn’t until after the festival that I was introduced to her work as a playwright. She sent me copies of her plays (The River Bride and Heart Shaped Nebula) and, in summer 2015 at the Latinx Theatre Commons Carnaval of New Latinx Work, I saw a reading of a new play that would completely blow me away—Wolf at the Door. Now, nearly four years after this reading in Chicago, Wolf at the Door, the second play in a trilogy of grim Latinx fairytales, is receiving its much-anticipated world premiere production.
Wolf at the Door continues its National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere April 11 to May 5, 2019, at Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas, Texas. Kitchen Dog Co-Artistic Director Christopher Carlos directs the Dallas production which joins New Jersey Repertory Company, Milagro, and Halcyon Theatre as part of the rolling world premiere.
Wolf at the Door is a contemporary Latinx fairy tale. Inspired by Latinx folklore, the play draws on mythology to tell a magical story about survival and the struggle to overcome adversity, freeing oneself in the process. The one-act play follows Isadora, who finds the strength to stand up to her abusive husband, Septimo, after she loses her firstborn son. Septimo’s machista rage and desperate need for a son culminates when he traps a pregnant intruder, Yolot, and schemes to steal her baby once she gives birth. The women, Isadora, Yolot, and the criada Rocio join forces and create a plan as the pack of wolves quickly closes in on the hacienda.
Given this is a rolling world premiere, Treviño Orta has had a unique experience in crafting Wolf at the Door. In particular, she has been able to finesse the ways in which domestic violence is portrayed both in the script and on the stage. Treviño Orta notes:
My first week in New Jersey I realized that Wolf at the Door has one particularly tricky scene that if not handled right could be very problematic. As domestic violence is part of the narrative, I never want the play to ever say “stay with the abuser.” All the directors and I are looking very closely at this scene to ensure that body language telegraphs clearly that the relationship between Isadora and Séptimo is unbalanced, that the offer she makes to her husband is a bit of a bargain with the devil—a sacrifice made in order to save Yolot. Being involved with the productions has allowed me to help directors shape this moment, but I know that I must carefully examine the script to make sure it’s clear how this scene should be approached by directors and actors.
Through the rolling world premiere, Treviño Orta has discussed this scene over the course of several months with different creative teams to develop a way to most effectively articulate her thoughts. This perhaps is the most beneficial aspect of the National New Play Networks rolling world premiere structure. While many new plays only receive one world premiere and have trouble receiving subsequent productions. Plays such as Wolf at the Door begin with multiple productions in a row, giving the play valuable momentum and setting it up for success going forward.
The cast is comprised of Ruben Carrazana, Alejandra Flores, Dolores Godinez, and Kristen Kelso. The show’s production team consists of Kitchen Dog Artistic Company Members: Clare Floyd DeVries (Set Design), Linda Blase (Light Design), Korey Kent (Costume Design), John M. Flores (Sound Design), Cindy Ernst-Godinez (Prop Design), and Jeremy Escobar (Stage Manager and Technical Director).
Performances of Wolf at the Door are scheduled for April 11 through May 5 at Trinity River Arts Center, 2600 N. Stemmons Fwy, Ste#180, Dallas, Texas, 75207. $15 to $30. For information, visit www.kitchendogtheater.org.
This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.