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Baja California, Mexico
|Occupation||Director, Writer, Activist|
University of California, Santa Cruz (BA)
University of Washington, Seattle (MFA)
Tlaloc Rivas is a self-identified Chicano who is an award-winning writer and theatre director. He is also the co-founder of the Latinx Theatre Commons, which works side by side with HowlRound to revolutionize American theater and to highlight and promote the contributions and presence of Latinx in theatre. Central to Rivas' work is the Latinx experience, but also exploring the American experience through the lens' of underrepresented voices. Rivas focuses on writing and directing plays that significantly explore Latinx identity and history. Additionally, Rivas has also translated and adapted plays from the Spanish language and directed Spanish-language and bilingual plays such as Mariela in the Desert by Karen Zacarias and classical works such as Peribáñez y el Comendador de Ocaña.
Early life and education
Tlaloc Rivas was born in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. He is named after the Aztec God of Rain and Fertility, Tlaloc. Rivas spent his early childhood in Mexico and has noted that his family members were oral storytellers. The early exposure he had to storytelling helped Rivas shape and develop his own storytelling skills at a young age. His parents were both involved in the Chicano Movement from the late 1960s into the 1970s while living in San Diego, and Rivas' honorary godfather at his baptism was civil rights leader Rodolfo Gonzales.
Rivas' family later moved from Escondido, California to Watsonville, California where he attended Watsonville High School. Spurred and marked by the events of the Watsonville Canning Strike, the Gomez v City of Watsonville Supreme Court voting rights decision, and the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, he deferred college for several years to remain involved as a community organizer and voting rights activist. He later enrolled at Cabrillo College, where theatre classes prompted him to get involved with theatre in general. In 1993, after having interned with El Teatro Campesino for nearly two seasons, Rivas along with three other classmates (Manuel Montez, Leonard Maestas and Renee Sola) founded Chicano TheatreWorks, a company created in response to the passage of California Proposition 187.
In the Fall of 1993, Rivas transferred to The University of California, Santa Cruz. He graduated with honors from UC Santa Cruz within a two-year period, obtaining a B.A. in Theater Arts. During his time at UC Santa Cruz, Rivas focused on acting and stage management, but transitioned into directing with a production of The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe, which toured to South Central Los Angeles communities in the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots with support from Stevenson College. His senior thesis production of The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa by acclaimed playwright Luis Valdez  was honored with a Dean of the Arts award, Chancellor's Honors, and the Regents Presidential Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research.
In 1996, Rivas departed Chicano TheatreWorks after being only one of two directors nationwide accepted into the School of Drama at the University of Washington. As a student in the Professional Directors Training Program, he studied under M. Burke Walker (founder of the acclaimed Empty Space Theatre in Seattle, Washington) and Valerie Curtis-Newton. He directed productions such as José Rivera's The House of Ramon Iglesia, The House of Bernarda Alba by Federico García Lorca and Octavio Solis' El Paso Blue.  During his final year of graduate studies, he completed a Directing Fellowship with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, serving as assistant director on their productions of Othello, The Good Person of Szechwan, and Rosmersholm. Rivas graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Directing from UW in 1999.
Tlaloc Rivas started writing and directing plays in California and has since then done the same in other states including New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Georgia, New Mexico, Washington, and Iowa. While still an undergraduate student, Rivas served as Artistic Director of Chicano TheatreWorks, a company which he also helped establish. Then, while he was in graduate school, he further dived into his professional career as a director with a position as Artistic Associate for The Group Theatre in Seattle. Upon obtaining his MFA in Directing, Rivas was appointed Artistic Director for Venture Theater Company.
In the early 2000s, Rivas was selected for the Career Development Program for Directors, administered by Theatre Communications Group and the National Endowment of the Arts. Rivas continued working by adjuncting or guest directing at Bryn Mawr College, Arcadia University and University of the Arts. Through this program, he assisted and observed many esteemed stage directors, including Oskar Eustis on Homebody/Kabul, Emily Mann on Anna in the Tropics, Joseph Chaikin on Shut-Eye, and Lisa Peterson on Chavez Ravine by Culture Clash.
In 2004, he moved to New York City and continued his freelance career as a director. In 2009, Rivas directed an acclaimed production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht at Queens College and the following year he took the position of Assistant Professor of Theatre at The University of Missouri- St. Louis. From 2012-2018, he taught at The University of Iowa as Assistant Professor of Directing while also teaching within the university's Latino Studies program. In the Summer of 2018, he was honored with a Presidential Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Carnegie Mellon College of Fine Arts, School of Drama.
Rivas maintains a high professional directing profile with regional productions across the United States. Rivas has directed at companies such as Aurora Theatre Company, Cleveland Public Theatre, Halcyon Theatre, Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, New Harmony Project, Salt Lake Acting Company, Los Angeles Theatre Center, Quantum Theatre and Merrimack Repertory Theatre, among others.
In 2015, Rivas directed his most recognized original written piece: Johanna: Facing Forward. Also during 2015, Johanna: Facing Forward brought him to win second place in the MetLife Nuestras Voces Playwriting Competition. In addition to this recognition, Rivas has also been a recipient of the Sir John Gielgud Fellowship in Classical Directing and honored by a Most Ambitious Production award from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for The New World.
Johanna: Facing Forward
Tlaloc Rivas' original work Johanna: Facing Forward is based on actual events. In 2007, Joanna Orozco was shot in the face by her ex-boyfriend. Johanna, who was only 18 years old at the time, went through intense recovery and post-recovery she went on to advocate for the rights of victims of domestic violence. To write his play, Rivas focused on the special series that Rachel Dissell wrote about Joanna Orozco for The Plain Dealer.
In its entirety, Johanna: Facing Forward is a bilingual play that primarily grapples with abusive relationships, assault and trauma, and survivor empowerment.
Additional works can be found on the New Play Exchange website.
- Runner-Up in MetLife Nuestras Voces Playwriting Competition for Johanna: Facing Forward, 2015
- Sir John Gielgud Fellowship in Classical Directing from the Stage Directors & Choreographers Foundation, 2014-2015
- Most Ambitious Production, The New World - St. Louis Post-Dispatch Judy Awards, 2012
- Person of the Year in NYTheatre.com for directing Summer and Smoke and Five Kinds of Silence, 2008
- NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Directors, 2001-2003
- Co-Founder of the Latinx Theatre Commons
- Presidential Post-Doctoral Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama
- Usual Suspect of New York Theatre Workshop
- Member of Dramatists Guild
- Member of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas
- Associate Member of Stage Directors and Choreographers
- Member of The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures
- Writer for HowlRound, A Journal for the Theater Commons
|Abigail/1702||Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa||Merrimack Repertory Theatre||2016|
|Peribañez||Félix Lope de Vega||Quantum Theatre||2016|
|Wit||Margaret Edson||Aurora Theatre Company||2016|
|In Love and Warcraft||Madhuri Shekar||Halcyon Theatre Company||2015|
|Johanna: Facing Forward||Tlaloc Rivas||Cleveland Public Theatre||2015|
|Mariela en el desierto||Karen Zacarías||Los Angeles Theatre Center||2014|
|Mariela en el desierto||Karen Zacarías||Aurora Theatre Company||2014|
|Fox on the Fairway||Ken Ludwig||Insight Theatre Company||2012|
|Cymbeline||Shakespeare||Richmond Shakespeare Festival||2012|
|The New World||Nancy Bell fr. Shakespeare||Shakespeare Festival St. Louis||2012|
|Becky's New Car||Steven Dietz||Insight Theatre Company||2011|
|La Llorona: A Love Story||Kathleen Anderson Culebro||Amphibian Stage Productions||2010|
|Summer and Smoke||Tennessee Williams||Big Sky Theater Company||2008|
|Five Kinds of Silence||Shelagh Stephenson||Boundless Theatre Company||2008|
|Generic Hispanic||Noemi de la Puente||Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre||2007|
|The Dumb Waiter||Harold Pinter||Ward 10 Productions||2006|
|The Crucible||Arthur Miller||Penobscot Theater Company||2004|
|undone||Andrea Thome||INTAR - New Works Lab||2004|
|DisappearingAct||Martha Michaela Brown||Philadelphia Fringe Festival||2003|
|Angel||Tameka Jones||Philadelphia Young Playwrights||2002|
|LongDistance||Martha Michaela Brown||BlueBox Productions||2002|
|Sonya's Dreamstation, Too||Eduardo Andino||Working Classroom||2001|
|La Posada Mágica||Octavio Solis||Teatro Visíon||2001|
|TrainThought||Martha Michaela Brown||Theatre Catalyst||2000|
|Rocket Man||Steven Dietz||Venture Theatre Company||2000|
|El Paso Blue||Octavio Solis||Venture Theatre Company||1999|
|The House of Ramon Iglesia||Jose Rivera||Ethnic Cultural Theatre||1997|
|Mud||Maria Irene Fornes||Dallas Theatre Center - Big D Festival||1996|
|My Visits With MGM (My Grandmother Marta)||Edit Villarreal||Chicano TheatreWorks||1995|
|Burning Patience||Antonio Skarmeta||Chicano TheatreWorks||1994|
|No Saco Nada De La Escuela (Actos)||Luis Valdez & Others||Chicano TheatreWorks||1993|
- "Latina/o Theatre Commons". HowlRound. Archived from the original on 2017-03-31. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
- "TlalocRivas.com". TlalocRivas.com. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
- trevorboffone (2016-06-20). "Tlaloc Rivas". 50 Playwrights Project. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
- "Once again, playwright Manuel Montez of Chicano TheatreWorks explores the themes of forbidden love in 'Particulate'". Retrieved 2017-04-18.
- "Tlaloc Rivas".[dead link]
- Lauderdale, Nicole StodardNicole is Artistic Director of Thinking Cap Theatre in Fort; http://dramadaily.wordpress.com, FL She blogs at (2011-06-21). "Spotlight: Tlaloc Rivas, Director". 2AMt. Retrieved 2017-04-19.
- "Alumni Profile / 1995: Tlaloc Rivas: Opening doors through theater". UC Santa Cruz News. Retrieved 2017-04-19.
- "Johanna: Facing Forward". Cleveland Public Theatre. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
- Astor-Vargas, Allison (December 29, 2015). "2015 METLIFE NUESTRAS VOCES NATIONAL PLAYWRITING COMPETITION RESULTS".[dead link]
- "Johanna Orozco news - cleveland.com". www.cleveland.com. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- "Johanna: Facing Forward from Victim to Advocate". HowlRound. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- Rivas, Tlaloc. "tlaloc_rivas_director_onepage" (PDF).
- Newmark, Judith. "Judy Awards: In 2012, theater artists spread their wings". stltoday.com. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
- "Links". TlalocRivas.com. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
- "Images". TlalocRivas.com. Retrieved 2017-04-18.[permanent dead link]
- Lopez, Myra (2012-03-07). "Production puts new spin on classic comedy". UMSL Daily. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
- "Updated Info: The St. Louis Premiere of THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS – Caridad Svich". caridadsvich.com. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
- "Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties". Oberlin College and Conservatory. Retrieved 2020-02-05.