Marisela Treviño Orta

Marisela Treviño Orta

Marisela Treviño Orta is an accidental playwright. She found her way to the genre while completing an MFA in Writing at the University of San Francisco (USF) where she studied poetry exclusively. While a student at USF, Marisela became the Resident Poet of El Teatro Jornalero!, a social justice theatre company comprised of Latinx immigrants.

Marisela’s first play BRAIDED SORROW was presented at...
Marisela Treviño Orta is an accidental playwright. She found her way to the genre while completing an MFA in Writing at the University of San Francisco (USF) where she studied poetry exclusively. While a student at USF, Marisela became the Resident Poet of El Teatro Jornalero!, a social justice theatre company comprised of Latinx immigrants.

Marisela’s first play BRAIDED SORROW was presented at the 2005 Bay Area Playwrights Festival and the 2006 [Inside] the Ford Summer Reading Series. BRAIDED SORROW went on to win the 2006 Chicano/Latino Literary Prize in Drama and received a 2008 world premiere at Su Teatro in Denver, CO, and won the 2009 Pen Center USA Literary Award in Drama.

Her other plays include: AMERICAN TRIAGE (2012 Repertorio Español Nuestras Voces Finalist); GHOST LIMB (2017 Brava Theatre world premiere); HEART SHAPED NEBULA (2012 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference Semi-Finalist, 2015 Shotgun Players world premiere); SHOE (2019 Kendeda Finalist); RETURN TO SENDER (Nashville Children’s Theatre commission); and WOMAN ON FIRE (2016 Camino Real Productions world premiere).

In 2011, she began writing her cycle of grim Latinx fairy tales—fairy tales for adults inspired by Latinx mythology and folklore—which include: ALCIRA; THE RIVER BRIDE (2013 National Latino Playwriting Award Co-Winner, 2016 Oregon Shakespeare Festival world premiere); WOLF AT THE DOOR (2016 Kilroys List, 2018/2019 National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere).

Marisela is an alum of the Iowa Playwrights Workshop, the Playwrights Foundation’s Resident Playwright Initiative, a founding member of the Bay Area Latino Theatre Artists Network, and a member of the Latinx Theatre Commons’ national Steering Committee. In 2018 Marisela was selected as a Core Writer at The Playwrights’ Center. Marisela is also a member of the Goodman Theatre's 2018/2019 Playwrights Unit.

Currently, Marisela is working on a new cycle of worst-case scenario plays—sci-fi thriller plays which include WMB (pronounced “womb”) and NIGHTFALL. She is also adapting Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit into a six-hour epic piece of theatre.

Contact Marisela at: mariselaorta@gmail.com

Plays

  • Miss Dorrit
    This adaptation of Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit—a sprawling six-hour piece of theatre—follows the intertwined lives of Amy Dorrit and Arthur Clennam. With Amy's father in debtor's prison for over twenty years it has fallen on Amy, his youngest daughter, to maintain the family's affairs. Upon the death of his father, Arthur returns from living abroad to find Miss Dorrit working for his...
    This adaptation of Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit—a sprawling six-hour piece of theatre—follows the intertwined lives of Amy Dorrit and Arthur Clennam. With Amy's father in debtor's prison for over twenty years it has fallen on Amy, his youngest daughter, to maintain the family's affairs. Upon the death of his father, Arthur returns from living abroad to find Miss Dorrit working for his strident and reclusive mother. As Arthur investigates how to assist Amy's family, fortunes rise and fall for all involved in this critique of material culture.
    [work-in-progress]

    Note: Cast size has not been fully determined as the second half of the play is currently being written.
  • Nightfall
    When the hospital calls her husband back to work, Karla finds herself stuck with her step-daughter on a camping trip with no way of contacting anyone. With each day that passes, they begin to realize that something has happened back in San Francisco and it’s heading straight for them. If they can keep their cool and work together, maybe they’ll make it out alive. [work-in-progress]
  • WMB
    When a world-wide virus threatens healthy pregnancies, WMB (pronounced “womb”) clinics are created to provide a virus-free environment for those who can afford the expensive nine-month residency. WMB trainee Claudia faces her final evaluation just as tensions between the have’s and the have not’s reach a boiling point. The only thing standing between all-out revolution is whether Claudia will remain loyal to...
    When a world-wide virus threatens healthy pregnancies, WMB (pronounced “womb”) clinics are created to provide a virus-free environment for those who can afford the expensive nine-month residency. WMB trainee Claudia faces her final evaluation just as tensions between the have’s and the have not’s reach a boiling point. The only thing standing between all-out revolution is whether Claudia will remain loyal to the WMB corporation and protect their technology with her very life. [work-in-progress]
  • Shoe
    In the sixteen years since her father left, Marta has felt trapped in her family's double-wide in Texas. She gave up college and stayed home to take care of her siblings and mother. Just as a secret online relationship reignites Marta's dreams and curiosity about the world outside, her siblings each decide they will do anything it takes to escape their home lives - even if it means leaving Marta behind.
  • Return to Sender
    After Tyler’s father is injured in a tractor accident, his family is forced to hire migrant Mexican workers to help save their Vermont farm from foreclosure. Tyler isn’t sure what to make of these workers. Are they undocumented? And what about the three daughters, particularly Mari, the oldest, who is proud of her Mexican heritage but also increasingly connected to her American life. Her family lives in...
    After Tyler’s father is injured in a tractor accident, his family is forced to hire migrant Mexican workers to help save their Vermont farm from foreclosure. Tyler isn’t sure what to make of these workers. Are they undocumented? And what about the three daughters, particularly Mari, the oldest, who is proud of her Mexican heritage but also increasingly connected to her American life. Her family lives in constant fear of being discovered by the authorities and sent back to the poverty they left behind in Mexico. Can Tyler and Mari find a way to be friends despite their differences? [Nashville Children's Theatre commissioned this adaptation of the Julia Alvarez novel by the same name]
  • Alcira
    In the last months of 1999, Fidelia moves to the San Francisco Mission District to live with her tía Carmelita unaware that the beautiful and powerful Alcira is setting a trap for her. Intent on surviving the next millennium, Alcira forces a showdown with Fidelia who must discover her true self and unlock her dormant powers if she is to survive.

    [work-in-progress]

    ALCIRA is part a...
    In the last months of 1999, Fidelia moves to the San Francisco Mission District to live with her tía Carmelita unaware that the beautiful and powerful Alcira is setting a trap for her. Intent on surviving the next millennium, Alcira forces a showdown with Fidelia who must discover her true self and unlock her dormant powers if she is to survive.

    [work-in-progress]

    ALCIRA is part a cycle of fairy tales Marisela is writing inspired by Latino folklore and mythology.
  • Wolf at the Door
    Isadora finds the strength to stand up to her abusive husband Septimo when he forces the very pregnant Yolot to stay against her will. While Septimo makes plans for the baby, Isadora and Yolot devise one of their own. And as a pack of wolves closes in on the hacienda, Isadora must decide what price she’ll pay for her own freedom.


    WOLF AT THE DOOR is part of a cycle of fairy tales Marisela...
    Isadora finds the strength to stand up to her abusive husband Septimo when he forces the very pregnant Yolot to stay against her will. While Septimo makes plans for the baby, Isadora and Yolot devise one of their own. And as a pack of wolves closes in on the hacienda, Isadora must decide what price she’ll pay for her own freedom.


    WOLF AT THE DOOR is part of a cycle of fairy tales Marisela is writing inspired by Latino folklore and mythology.
  • The River Bride
    Three days before a wedding a handsome and mysterious man is fished from the Amazon River. Set once upon a time in a small Brazilian fishing village, THE RIVER BRIDE is a tale of true love, regret and two sisters who struggle to be true to each other and their hearts.

    2016 Oregon Shakespeare Festival World Premiere

    THE RIVER BRIDE is part of a cycle of fairy tales Marisela is...
    Three days before a wedding a handsome and mysterious man is fished from the Amazon River. Set once upon a time in a small Brazilian fishing village, THE RIVER BRIDE is a tale of true love, regret and two sisters who struggle to be true to each other and their hearts.

    2016 Oregon Shakespeare Festival World Premiere

    THE RIVER BRIDE is part of a cycle of fairy tales Marisela is writing inspired by Latino folklore and mythology.

    THE RIVER BRIDE was developed in residency with AlterTheater Ensemble, San Rafael, CA.
  • Heart Shaped Nebula
    "Your love is an anomaly. It defies logic, time, and space." On the anniversary of a tragic accident, Miqueo travels to the desert town of Tonopah, known for having the darkest skies with an abundance of stars. He has come to let go of his grief, but the Universe seems to have other plans. In comes Amara, a rebellious teenager who is more than she appears to be. With an aura of magical realism, Heart...
    "Your love is an anomaly. It defies logic, time, and space." On the anniversary of a tragic accident, Miqueo travels to the desert town of Tonopah, known for having the darkest skies with an abundance of stars. He has come to let go of his grief, but the Universe seems to have other plans. In comes Amara, a rebellious teenager who is more than she appears to be. With an aura of magical realism, Heart Shaped Nebula, explores the mysteries of the universe and the human heart.

    2015 Shotgun Players World Premiere
  • Ghost Limb
    Set in Argentina during the Dirty War and drawing inspiration from the Greek myth of Persephone and Demeter, Ghost Limb plunges the world into winter when Consuelo’s son is disappeared by the military dictatorship. Injured during her son’s abduction, Consuelo uses a psychic connection between her injured arm and her tortured son to find his location before it’s too late.
  • American Triage
    Teens Lalo and Fatima struggle to keep their family and faith in tact when their parents are deported after immigration raids sweep through their city. But when Lalo turns to his guardian angel for help he sets into motion events that threaten to further fracture his family.
  • Woman on Fire
    Set in 2002 under the specter of the 9/11 terror attacks, WOMAN ON FIRE is a re-imagining of Sophocles' ANTIGONE set along the Arizona/Mexico border. The ghost of a woman who died while crossing the border haunts the unwilling heroine Juanita, the wife of a U.S. Border Patrolman. Juanita finds herself torn between the law of man and a higher law when she must decide whether or not to put her husband's...
    Set in 2002 under the specter of the 9/11 terror attacks, WOMAN ON FIRE is a re-imagining of Sophocles' ANTIGONE set along the Arizona/Mexico border. The ghost of a woman who died while crossing the border haunts the unwilling heroine Juanita, the wife of a U.S. Border Patrolman. Juanita finds herself torn between the law of man and a higher law when she must decide whether or not to put her husband's career and their marriage at risk in order to give the restless spirit the proper burial it demands.
  • Braided Sorrow
    Drawing on both poetic and naturalistic techniques BRAIDED SORROW tells the story of a young girl, Alma, who comes to Juarez, Mexico to find work, but instead becomes enmeshed in the series of lethal traps awaiting young female workers for which that city is now infamous.