AlterTheater premieres National Latino Playwriting award winner!
A Grimm Style fairy tale set in Brazil’s Amazon

October 10, 2013— AlterTheater opens its 10th season with the world premiere of The River Bride by Marisela Treviño Orta. Developed within AlterTheater’s inaugural playwright residency program, The River Bride is co-winner of the National Latino Playwriting Award.


“The River Bride is a visually striking fairytale infused with lyrical language and steeped in the folklore of the Amazon,” said Arizona Theatre Company Playwright-in-Residence Elaine Romero, one of the judges that awarded the prize. More about the National Latino Playwriting Award:


Inspired by Brazilian folklore about river dolphins that come ashore for three days to seduce women, the play features two sisters in a traditional fishing village along the Amazon River as they find their own meaning of “happily ever after.” THE RIVER BRIDE is the first in a three-play cycle based on Latino mythology and folklore.


“I think almost all the fairy tales I grew up with were either Grimm fairy tales or Hans Christensen Anderson—meaning they originated in Europe. As a playwright I’m interested in expanding the breadth of Latino roles and stories we see on our stages,” says playwright Marisela Treviño Orta. “Originally when I first began working on this cycle of plays I was attempting to write a myth. I was very drawn to Greek myths when I was young, mainly because of their connection to astronomy. It was early in the writing process that I decided I was actually writing a fairy tale. And I quite liked the idea of writing new fairy tales, but ones inspired by Latino folklore.”


THE RIVER BRIDE will be co-directed by Ann Brebner and Jeanette Harrison. Ms. Brebner has directed AlterTheater’s award-winning production of Intimate Apparel, as well as productions of Two Sisters and a Piano by Nilo Cruz; and last co-directed for AlterTheater the Bay Area premiere of Sex Parasite, which starred Ms. Harrison. “Ann is my all-time favorite director to work with, and I’m honored to be co-directing Marisela’s play with her,” says Harrison.


THE RIVER BRIDE will run for four weeks in a San Rafael storefront, then move to a limited run in a storefront theater in San Francisco. “AlterTheater is very excited about partnering for the first time with A.C.T.,” says Harrison.  “Their Costume Shop Theater is everything AlterTheater looks for in a performance space.” Committed to performing in highly visible locations, AlterTheater looks for spaces in pedestrian thoroughfares, with windows that allow passersby to “window shop” theater.



Last season, AlterTheater began premiering plays developed within the company’s innovative playwright residency program, AlterLab. AlterLab supports three to five writers each year as each one writes a new play, challenges themselves creatively, and supports their fellow writers. The first play to premiere from AlterLab, Ann Brebner’s THE DEAD GIRL, was called “the best of the lot” of new plays that AlterTheater has premiered, which reinforces the program’s methods. “The AlterLab residency was unlike any other I’ve experienced. There was something magical to our group of four writers,” says playwright Marisela Treviño Orta. “We became deeply invested in one another’s work, in helping each other talk through moments of self doubt and cracking the writing challenges we were each facing. All residencies provide playwrights with support, resources and the opportunity to rise to the writing challenge, but AlterLab cultivated a close-knit community of writers each finding ways to buttress their peers, nudge them in new directions and all of us are better playwrights as a result.”


AlterLab will begin its third year-long residency in 2014, and the 2014 writers will be announced in January.




Marisela Treviño Orta received an MFA in Writing with a concentration in Poetry from the University of San Francisco. Her first play, Braided Sorrow, was read at the 2005 Bay Area Playwrights Festival and the 2006 [Inside] the Ford Summer Reading series; won the UC Irvine Chicano/Latino Literary Prize in Drama; and was produced in the Fall of 2008 at El Centro Su Teatro in Denver, CO, where it received an extended run. Marisela’s play American Triage was commissioned by Marin Theatre Company and received a workshop production in February 2008. Her one act Woman on Fire was read at the Latino Playwright Initiative’s Primer Pasos: Un Festival de Latino Plays in October 2006 and read at the 2007 Bay Area Playwrights Festival BASH (Bay Area Shorts) program. Latino Playwrights Initiative (LPI) coordinators Austin Script Works and Teatro Vivo commissioned a full-length version of Woman on Fire, which was read in Austin at an LPI reading and in San Francisco as part of the Playwrights Foundation’s In The Rough reading series. Recently Marisela taught playwriting at San Francisco School for the Arts and participated in Just Theatre’s New Play Lab. Currently she is a Resident Playwright at the Playwrights Foundation, San Francisco.

Ann Brebner has spent her life in theater or film, and trained as a theater director at London’s Old Vic. Until 1981 she was the president of Brebner Agencies Inc., in San Francisco representing actors and screenwriters in the motion picture industry. She has worked as a casting director, written three screenplays, and authored a book on the skill of living a creative life in a left-brained world, Setting Free the Actor, published in 1991. More recently she has headed the drive to restore the Rafael Film Center in San Rafael as the permanent home of the California Film Institute, which produces the Mill Valley Film Festival.  For the Rafael Film Center Project she was the chair and the project manager. She has completed her second book, All My Mothers, a memoir of those who formed her life. With AlterTheater,  Ann co-directed, with Frances Lee McCain, the Bay Area premiere of Sex Parasite in AlterTheater's Inaugural Season, and directed the West Coast premiere of "Cuddle Time" by Keely Madden in Smorgasbord of Shorts II, and the world premiere of Thirst by Dyke Garrison. She also directed the award-winning production Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage, and the Bay Area premiere of Two Sisters and a Piano by Nilo Cruz. She and her writing partner Laurel Graver adapted Anne Lamott's first novel, Hard Laughter, into a play, which premiered with AlterTheater in Spring 2008. More recently, she is a writer in AlterLab, AlterTheater’s playwright residency program, where she developed her first original play, The Dead Girl, which she directed in its world premiere with AlterTheater in Spring 2013.


Jeanette Harrison trained as a theater director in Chicago, and works in theater, film, radio, and voiceover. Passionate about new plays, she has produced 14 world premieres with AlterTheater, and ran the new works program the Global Age Project at Aurora Theatre in Berkeley. With AlterTheater, she has appeared onstage in References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot by Jose Rivera; in the Lauren Yee commission A Man, his Wife, and his Hat; the Bay Area premiere of Nilo Cruz’s Two Sisters and a Piano; Intimate Apparel; Owners by Caryl Churchill, among others. With Cutting Ball Theater, she appeared in the award-winning production (Best Ensemble, Best Production) of …and Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi. In the Bay Area, she has worked with Berkeley Rep, Magic Theatre, Golden Thread Productions, Woman’s Will, Sonoma County Rep, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, and more.



AlterTheater works the opposite of the movies: discount tickets are available when our plays first open. We work to make sure all members of our community can come together to share stories.


Our ensemble includes the Bay Area’s best established and emerging artists.


We believe the world can change for the better when artists dream big, take risks, and push themselves to the limits of their imagination….and then take another step.


AlterTheater temporarily transforms storefronts along the downtown San Rafael pedestrian shopping district into performance spaces: it’s theater you can window shop!



The River Bride at a Glance:


The River Bride

by Marisela Treviño Orta

co-directed by Ann Brebner and Jeanette Harrison

Previews begin January 8th

Press Opening: January 11th

Closing: February 2nd


With additional performances at A.C.T.’s Costume Shop Theater February 13th-16th

Performs in rep with FOOL FOR LOVE by Sam Shepard, directed by Will Marchetti


Ticket information:

Individual tickets are $25, or less during the first two weeks of performances, Featured discounts include Choose-Your-Own-Price Night, Senior Discount Day, and more, some of which are only available online.



AlterTheater Ensemble performs in storefronts along downtown San Rafael’s pedestrian shopping district. This show will perform for four weeks in a storefront in downtown San Rafael, and then move to San Francisco’s A.C.T. Costume Shop Theater.