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Mariela in the Desert

“When is Art a Lie?”

Mariela and José were once the golden couple of the Mexican artists’ inner circle. Together they built a family and an artist colony to host friends Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Rufino Tamayo. But now their daughter has grown up and run away, their friends are too famous to call, and artistic inspiration has been strangled by isolation and lies. Set in the northern Mexican desert in 1950, Mariela in the Desert is a deadly mystery—a layered yet profoundly honest story of what happens to a family when creativity is forced to dry and wither away.

“It’s a play much like the family that lives in it. Think of a fraying blanket with many loose threads. Pull just one, and you fear it might all just fall apart. That it never does—the family or the play—is writer Karen Zacarías’ achievement. Her characters are fully drawn and her dialogue is infused with a color all its own “Mariela in the Desert,” lingers in the mind like the sandy desert air.”

– John Moore, Denver Post

Mariela in the Desert is a beautiful play, a serious piece about the way art works in the lives of the human beings who create it, the possibilities of transcendence it offers.”

– Juliet Whitman, Westword Arts

Re-Premiere at The Denver Theater Center

Cast & Crew

Winner of the Francesa Primus Award

Winner of the National Latino Playwright Award

National Francesca Primus Prize for Outstanding Emerging Playwright

3 women  //  3 men

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Selected production history:
Goodman Theater (2005 World Premiere), Theater of the First Amendment, Milagro Theater, Denver Theater Center (Revised script 2010)

Click here to download a brief excerpt from Mariela in the Desert