By: May. 13, 2015

Cleveland Public Theatre (CPT) Executive Artistic Director Raymond Bobgan presents the World Premiere of Johanna: Facing Forward, written and directed by Tlaloc Rivas, based on the writings of Johanna Orozco and the investigative journalism of The Plain Dealer's Rachel Dissell.

Johanna: Facing Forward is 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. Based on the Pulitzer prize-winning series "Facing Forward" by Plain Dealer journalist Rachel Dissell, along with personal writings provided by Orozco, Johanna: Facing Forward is a vivid recount of the young woman's extraordinary journey of courage and recovery. Told through a cast of 11 performers playing multiple characters, Johanna: Facing Forward propels the audience forward and backward in time, from the emergency room to the witness stand, weaving real-time action with dreamlike flashbacks that explore Orozco's early life and the events that shaped her. Johanna: Facing Forward raises important questions about the complexities of intimate partner violence, while at the same time is a life-affirming story of triumph over darkness.

The world premiere of Johanna: Facing Forward is produced by Cleveland Public Theatre, in conjunction with Teatro Publico de Cleveland, CPT's Latin American theatre ensemble.

The production is primarily written and performed in English, with some Spanish spoken (English supertitles provided).

Tlaloc 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. www.tlalocrivas.com

The production stars Tania Benites as Johanna, with Becky Aviles (as Hilda Hernandez), Andrea Belser (as Attorney Pinkey Carr), Courtney Brown (as Rachel Dissell), Arthur Chu (as Gus Chan), Jason Estremera (as Juan Ruiz), Stuart Hoffman (as Dr. Michael Fritz), Letitia Lopez (as Candida Orozco), Gilberto Peña (as Wosbely Orozco), Alejandro Rivera (as Alberto Orozco) and Blanca Salva (as Juanita Orozco).

The production team is Tlaloc Rivas (Playwright/Director), Megan Monaghan-Rivas (Dramaturge), Aaron Benson (Set Designer), Inda Blatch-Geib (Costume Designer), T. Paul Lowry (Video Designer), Sam Fisher (Sound Designer), Michael Cunningham (Lighting Designer) and Sarah Lynne Nicholas (Stage Manager).

Johanna: Facing Forward previews Thursday, May 28 and runs Friday, May 29 through Saturday, June 13. Performances are Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday at 7:30pm at Cleveland Public Theatre, Gordon Square Theatre, 6415 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44102.

Tickets are $12 - $28. All Thursday and Monday shows are just $12. Student and Senior discounts ($3 off) are available for Friday and Saturday performances. Every Friday is "Free Beer Friday" at CPT.

Tickets are available for purchase at www.cptonline.org or by phone at (216) 631-2727 ext 501. Group discounts available for 10+, with special ticket discounts for student and youth groups. Call to inquire.

For more information about Johanna: Facing Forward or to schedule an interview, contact Cathleen O'Malley, Director of Audience Engagement & Media Relations at (216) 631-2727 ext 212 or comalley@cptonline.org.