Borderlands Theater Presents WEST SIDE STORIES

The theatrical festival takes place Thursdays- Sundays April 20th-30th, 2023.

By: Mar. 29, 2023
Borderlands Theater Presents WEST SIDE STORIES

Borderlands Theater presents West Side Stories, written by Veronica Weatherbie with contributions by Patricia Preciado Martin, Milta Ortiz, Silviana Wood and Marc David Pinate, edited by Milta Ortiz and directed by Jonathan Heras and Marc David Pinate. The theatrical festival takes place Thursdays- Sundays April 20th-30th, 2023 Pre-show Picnic and Activities start at 6:00pm. The Main Stage Show starts at 7:45pm at Bonita Park, 20 N. Bonita Avenue.


West Side Stories offers audiences, a chance to eat alfresco with loved ones, check out an interactive game show, engage in a heritage talk circle, walk through an augmented reality installation and experience a local story told through shadow box installations. All before the play begins!

The heritage based theatrical festival is fun for all ages! It's meant to be shared with family and friends. In an effort to make it accessible it's a choose what you pay event! Online reservations are encouraged: First come first serve. Free parking available in Bonita Ave lots. Accessible by bus lines 21 & 22.

Bring your own chairs, blankets, ice chests, food... anything you'd bring to a park! West Side Stories is a no alcohol event.


Picnic With Family and Friends

The festival celebrates Westside pride and invites audiences to make a special family recipe to enjoy with family and friends. If you don't have one, check our website for a Sonorense staple, Chile con Carne Colorada. If you don't have time to cook, we suggest picking up dinner to go from a legacy West Side restaurant like Pat's, Tania's, St. Mary's, or Mariscos Chihuahua! Or show up and buy dinner from local food trucks.

Garden of Gethsemane Shadow Box Installation

Inspired by shadow box art, digital animations and shadow theatre techniques tell the story of Felix Lucero and a battlefield promise he made that led him to carve the statues that adorn the long-standing Garden of Gethsemane located on the banks of the Santa Cruz, just below the Congress Street Bridge.

Augmented Reality Experience

(co-presented with Arizona State Museum) Use your smartphone to view photo galleries depicting the people and places of the westside from the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Holograms of people from the past tell stories of life on the Westside.

Community Land Trust Game Show

(co-presented with Pima County Community Land Trust and UA Theatre students)

A humorous , interactive game show where contestants from the audience undertake challenges and test their knowledge to keep their neighborhood from getting gentrified. A fun way to learn how community land trusts work to keep a stock of affordable housing in neighborhoods.

Heritage Talk Circles

Lifelong westside elders share their experiences living, working, and organizing in the Westside. Inspired by indigenous storytelling traditions, the talk circle is a place for all to listen, ask questions, reminisce, and share. We are honored to present the following heritage speakers:

Thursday, April 20

Armando Rodriguez will discuss the 1-C Americanization program and growing up in Menlo Park.

Friday, April 21

Patsy Lee remembers her father's store, Alan's Market, in Barrio Hollywood.

Sunday, April 23

Margo Cowan shares stories of community organizing on the Westside as director of the

Manzo Area Council

Friday, April 28

Barbara Lewis and her brother George Hollins share African American perspectives of the Westside.

Sunday, April 30

Sixto Molina remembers his time in the Tucson Police Department and his assignment to the Adam One Community Policing Project


The Barrio Stories Project was born out of an impulse to honor and celebrate Tucson's historic Mexican American Barrios. West Side Stories is deeply embedded in the Westside and is driven by professional artists working alongside current and former residents of the area. Borderlands artists formed a steering committee of Westside residents which met monthly to create a theatrical experience authentic to the Westside.

At the heart of the theatrical festival is a desire to share some of the rich Westside history from the voice of its residents. Residents were interviewed to create the play and installations that make up the festival. A reoccuring theme in the oral histories reflected how barrio residents supported each other to survive and build community, whether it was to erect an adobe home, keeping an eye on each other's children, or the credit Chinese grocers generously offered.

Westside Stories is a collaborative placemaking effort between residents,, artists, local government and educational and community service organizations.Project partners include City of Tucson Parks and Recreation who has advised Borderlands Theater on the use of Bonita Park and will complete significant upgrades to the Garden of Gethsemane; Tucson City Council Ward 1, who provided advice and is a festival sponsor; Pima County Community Land Trust providing technical expertise and working with UA students to create the Community Land Trust game show; and the Arizona State Museum who along with the UA Center for Digital Humanities created an augmented reality experience based on the archival photo research Borderlands Theater conducted.


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