Johanna: Facing Forward

Written and Directed by Tlaloc Rivas
Featuring Tania Benites (as Johanna), Becky Aviles, Andrea Belser, Courtney Brown, Arthur Chu, Jason Estremera, Stuart Hoffman, Letitia Lopez, Gilberto Peña, Alejandro Rivera and Blanca Salva.

May 28, 2015 - June 13, 2015

7:30pm, Gordon Square Theatre

2 hours and 15 min, with intermission


Inspired by the true story of Johanna Orozco, a Cleveland teen who survived a gunshot wound to the face by her boyfriend in 2007 and whose story sparked a nation-wide movement against teen domestic violence. Johanna’s story is complex and raises critical questions, but it is also a life-affirming story of triumph. Based on The Plain Dealer’s award-winning series “Facing Forward” by journalist Rachel Dissell and produced in conjunction with Teatro Publico de Cleveland. WORLD PREMIERE.

The Creative Production Team Includes:

Megan Monaghan Rivas- Dramaturg
Sarah Lynne Nicholas- Stage Manager
Aaron Benson- Scenic Designer
Inda Blatch-Geib- Costume Designer
T. Paul Lowry- Video Designer
Sam Fisher- Sound Designer
Michael Cunningham- Lighting Designer
Kevin Orozco- Board Operator

Remarkable Rating:

Johanna: facing Forward is sold out 5/28, 5/29, 5/30, 6/8 and 6/10.

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Meet the Playwright and Director…

Tlaloc headshotTlaloc Rivas is a writer, director, and theatre-maker who creates, develops and directs new plays focusing on the complexity, diversity and history of Latina/os in the United States and abroad. He also directs bilingual plays, classical and contemporary pieces, and new work by some of America’s most exciting writers.

Originally from Baja California, Mexico and raised in Northern California, Tlaloc graduated with honors from the University of California Santa Cruz, and received his MFA in Directing from the University of Washington’s School of Drama. He splits his time between Iowa City (as Assistant Professor of Theatre at The University of Iowa) and Pittsburgh, where his wife Megan teaches at Carnegie Mellon University. He also enjoys running and hiking with his dog Xóchitl.

Tlaloc is a co-founder of the Latina/o Theatre Commons and serves on the Editorial Board of its online platform, Café Onda.  As former Co-Chair of the LTC’s National Steering Committee, he helped organize the largest gathering of Latina/o artists in 25 years at Emerson College, Boston. He is a member of ATHE’s Latina/o Focus Group, a member of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) and an Associate Member of Stage Directors and Choreographers, the national union for stage directors and choreographers.


Photo by Gus Chan

Johanna: Facing Forward by playwright/director Tlaloc Rivas is based on the writings of Johanna Orozco and Rachel Dissell’s award-winning series Facing Forward, originally published in the The Plain Dealer in 2007. Click Here to read the full 9-part series and more, and to learn how Johanna’s story – and her tireless advocacy and activism – led to the approval of critical legislation aimed to protect teens in abusive relationships.

From The Plain Dealer

How a shocking story of teen-dating abuse, first reported in The Plain Dealer, became the world-premiere play ‘Johanna: Facing Forward’ at Cleveland Public Theatre
An intimate and compelling peek into the creation of Johanna: Facing Forward and the collaborators who are making it happen.

Johanna: Facing Forward – Multimedia
An interactive, clickable audio and photographic presentation of events, from the emergency room to the trial, narrated by Johanna Orozco and her Cleveland Clinic surgeon Dr. Michael Fritz.

A Look Back at Johanna Orozco
A slideshow of the original Plain Dealer articles and photographs.

In Johanna’s Words…
Excerpts from Johanna Orozco’s journal entries and poems.

Johanna Orozco: Where is she now?
A slideshow of Johanna and her family from July 2014.

What is Teatro Publico de Cleveland?

Click Here to find out more information.

MeganRivasheadshotwebFrom the Dramaturg… (and what is a “dramaturg” anyway?)…

A dramaturg is a jack of all trades: a researcher, advocate, interface for the director, literary editor, consultant, a specialist. Dramaturgs work closely with playwrights and directors to inform choices and to dissect theatrical structure.

Megan Monaghan Rivas, Dramaturg of Johanna: Facing Forward, has been conducting extensive research on Johanna Orozoco’s impact on legal reform. Johanna’s advocacy helped pass two bills in the Ohio state legislature.

One made it possible for young people under 18 to get orders of protection against other young people under 18 – the “Teen Dating Violence Bill.”
The other, “Tina’s Law” or “The Tina Croucher Act,” made it mandatory for Ohio public schools to teach a curriculum on domestic violence prevention. The law was named in memory of a teenage girl who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in a murder-suicide. Johanna lobbied for the law and after it was passed, she frequently spoke in schools and other venues to help train teachers, counselors and students.

Click Here to read highlights from Megan’s research about the “Teen Dating Violence Bill.”“Tina’s Law” and national teen violence statistics.

Photos from the rehearsal room

Photos by Alejandro Rivera, member of Teatro Publico de Cleveland, photographer and cast member of Johanna: Facing Forward

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thanks to our Johanna: facing Forward Sponsor