CITIZEN By Greg Sarris to Open at Z Below in October

The production will open on October 21.

By: Sep. 30, 2023
CITIZEN By Greg Sarris to Open at Z Below in October

Word for Word and Z Space 30th Season will reach its crescendo with the October production of CITIZEN by Greg Sarris running  October 21 - November 12 (Previews: October 18, 19, 20). In CITIZEN, Salvador, an American citizen who speaks no English, procures his proof of citizenship and begins to discover his true identity, and what it means to fit in. 

“The story portrays a very real immigrant experience, this time with the irony that the immigrant was born in the United States and left as an infant with his Native Coast Miwok mother,” remarks Greg Sarris

The opening night of Citizen will be included as part of this year's LitCrawl on October 21st. For more information, visit:

CITIZEN is directed by Gendell Hing-Hernández with actors Patricio Becerril, L. Duarte, Lisa Hori-Garcia*,  Rudy Guerrero*, Ixtlán*, Carolina Morones and Ryan Tasker*.  *AEA

Performances are Wed & Thurs 7pm, Fri & Sat 8pm, Sun 3pm

A Night with the Author, Greg Sarris on Thursday, October 26th - a special after show conversation with Greg Sarris. Tickets are $75

CITIZEN tells the tale of Salvador, born in the U.S., raised in Mexico; son of an American Indian mother and a Mexican father. He has returned to California to find his mother, or rather, her grave. Working in the fields and ranches around Santa Rosa, he meets his mother's family, encountering both kindness and opportunism, as well as glimmers of hope. An American citizen, who speaks no English, Salvador procures his proof of citizenship and begins to discover his true identity, and what it means to belong. 

“This season we're thinking a lot about belonging. Whether it be home, country, family or self – where do we belong? How do we belong?” remarks Word for Word artistic Director JoAnne Winter, continuing “All of the stories we've chosen to present this year investigate those kinds of questions - Greg Sarris's Salvador – born in California, raised in Mexico – both indigenous American and Mexican, but where does he belong? Who is he, really? What defines us?”

Word for Word's association with Greg Sarris goes back to 1994, when they produced “Slaughterhouse” from Sarris's book Grand Avenue, a novel of interlinked short stories about contemporary, urban American Indians and other marginalized people who live in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County. After seeing this show, Sarris became a fan of Word for Word; and this led to many more wonderful collaborations over the years. Since 2018, Word for Word's arts education program, Youth Arts, has been in residence as the arts provider for Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria's youth summer camp programs. Every summer, Youth Arts teaching artists provide arts instruction across several genres and teach Word for Word's unique dramatic style to native youth.

Greg Sarris (Author) received his Ph.D. in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University, where he was awarded the Walter Gore Award for excellence in teaching. He has published several books, including the widely anthologized collection of essays, Keeping Slug Woman Alive: A Holistic Approach to American Indian Texts, and Grand Avenue, an award-winning collection of short stories, which he adapted for an HBO miniseries of the same name and co-executive produced with Robert Redford. His last novel, Watermelon Nights, received rave reviews and was adapted for a play by the Santa Rosa Community College Theatre Arts Department. Greg has written plays for Pieces of the Quilt, Intersection Theatre, and the Mark Taper Forum. His play, entitled Mission Indians, opened at the Intersection Theatre in San Francisco, February 2002, and received the 2003 Bay Area Theatre Critics Award for Best Script. He co-produced, advised, and was featured in a sixteen-part series on American literature for Public Television called American Passages, which won the prestigious Hugo Award for Best Documentary in 2003. He has written two pilot scripts for Showtime and one for HBO.  He edited a book (with Connie Jacobs and James Giles) for MLA, Teaching the Work of Louise Erdrich (2004). Greg has “doctored” many scripts and worked with The Sundance Institute, where he helped develop a summer writing lab for American Indians interested in film writing. In spring 2008, Word for Word Theatre performed two of his new short stories in over 80 schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has completed a collection of short stories as well as a collection of children's stories and is currently finishing a new novel.

He is serving his sixteenth consecutive term as Chairman of his tribe, the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, formerly known as the Federated Coast Miwok, and he co-authored a bill on behalf of the tribe, H.R. 5528. On December 27, 2000, President Clinton signed this bill restoring the Federated Coast Miwok as a recognized American Indian tribe, making the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria the last tribe in the United States to be restored by an Act of Congress. On October 1, 2010, Greg successfully regained a reservation for his people after the Tribe had been homeless for over 50 years. In July 2013, he raised money to build a resort and casino for his tribe, and today, the casino resort is among the 5 most successful Indian casinos in the nation. In addition to serving as Chairman of his Tribe, he serves as President of the Tribe's Economic Development Board, overseeing all of the Tribe's business interests, including the Graton Resort and Casino. 

Formerly a full professor of English at UCLA, and then the Fletcher Jones Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at Loyola Marymount University, Greg now lives in Sonoma County and holds the title of Distinguished Emeritus Graton Endowed Chair in Native American Studies at Sonoma State University, where he taught a number of courses in Creative Writing, American Literature, and American Indian Literature. A collection of children's stories entitled How a Mountain Was Made was published in 2017 and was awarded a Bronze Medal from Independent Publisher Book Awards. His book Becoming Story: A Journey among Seasons, Places, Trees, and Ancestors was released in April 2022.  He is the executive producer of I Am A Noise, a documentary film about Joan Baez, he has been appointed Chair to the Board of Trustees for the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Co-Chair of Smithsonian Campaign, and elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2023 Greg was appointed to the UC Board of Regents by Governor Gavin Newsome.

Creative Team:

CITIZEN is directed by Gendell Hing-Hernández featuring actors Patricio Becerril (Salvador), L. Duarte (Eldine), Lisa Hori-Garcia* (Candy, Ensemble), Rudy Guerrero* (Al, Sal's father, Ensemble), Ixtlán* (Marco), Carolina Morones (Ofelia, Ensemble) and Ryan Tasker* (Mike, Ensemble). *AEA

Gendell Hing-Hernández (Director) was born in Havana, Cuba, and has actively worked as a bilingual Actor, Director and Producer in the Bay Area since 1997. He is currently a Word for Word Company Member and has worked as an actor for Word for Word, Campo Santo, Magic Theatre, Berkeley Rep, TheatreWorks, San Jose Rep, Center Rep, New Pickle Circus and many others. Productions include Lucia Berlin, Sorry Fugu, Oil!, Around The World In 80 Days, The Cook, Blood Wedding, Oedipus El Rey and References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot. He has been a company member of: Theater of Yugen, Red Ladder Theater Company, Alphabet Rockers and The Felonious Collective. His directing work includes works with Word for Word, Felonious, Quixotic Players, Teatro del Juglar, The NY Hip-Hop Theater Festival, Oakland Public Theatre, Berkeley Rep's School of Theatre and the Pacific Alliance Stage Company. He has also been an Event Manager and Producer for Word for Word, Felonious: One Love Hip Hop, Theater Of Yugen and The Cuban-American Cultural Institute. His work on Gerg Sarris' How A Mountain Was Made led him to Citizen. 

As a Teaching Artist, Gendell has been in classrooms, libraries, camps and jails all over the Bay Area by Berkeley Rep, San Jose Rep, Word for Word, SF Shakes, Cal Shakes, TheaterWorks, Alphabet Rockers, and Theater of Yugen. His main focus is to use theater as a lens for education and inspiration. He has developed bilingual programming in Spanish and English for Berkeley Rep, Word for Word, and The Alphabet Rockers and has taught theater in the United States, Cuba, and France. 

Hing-Hernández is stage combat certified, first aid certified and a movement specialist. He won the Best Fight Choreography Award for R&J and Best Ensemble Award for his work in Magic's Theater's production of Oedipus: El Rey. 

Patricio Becerril (Salvador) is a Bay Area actor and a recent graduate from the University of California San Diego. Born in Leon, Guanajuato and raised in Santa Rosa, California, Patricio is profoundly grateful to be part of the Z Space family. He would like to give a special thanks to his family for the immense love and care they give. Patricio strives to create both truthful and entertaining storytelling as his most important responsibility lies in challenging audience members to have meaningful dialogue and to have fun. His recent credits include Exhaustion (Cutting Ball Theater); Trees in the Ravine (Arroyo Dancing); Napoli and Mojada (UC San Diego); Untitled Puppet Show and A Skeptic and a Bruja (LNPF, San Diego Repertory); As You Like It (RavenTheater); and The Good Doctor and How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents (SRJC Theater). Instagram: @patobee7 Tik Tok: @patobee7

L. Duarte (Eldine) (they/them) is an actor, director & playwright whose recent projects include 

August: Osage County (San Jose Stage Company); Julius Caesar (PacRep); The Review (Theatre Rhinoceros); Helen! (Theatre of Yugen); Into the Beautiful North and The King of Cuba (Central Works).

They have also worked with Willows Theatre Co, Berkeley Rep., Crowded Fire, Playwrights Foundation, Bay Area Children's Theatre and various others. Duarte is a graduate of UCLA, UCSC, and has trained with A.C.T. and Shakespeare & Co. Duarte is a founding member of Latinx Mafia, a Bay Area collective of Latinx Teatristas, who work to ensure Latinx stories are valued and accurately represented.

Lisa Hori-Garcia* (Candy, Ensemble) is thrilled to be back in San Francisco performing in Chairman Sarris's powerful piece, Citizen, with this incredible group of artists. Over the years, she has had the amazing opportunity to perform in multiple Word for Word productions like Chairman Sarris's beautiful, Stories from Sonoma Mountain, and was most recently seen in Home by George Saunders which toured to France in May 2023.  Lisa is an actress, director, and teaching artist who regularly works between Denver, Colorado, and San Francisco. Most recently in Denver, Lisa was in the world premiere, immersive theatrical production of David Byrne's Theater of the Mind at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.Lisa received her BA from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, and her MFA in Acting from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California. She is a member of AEA and SAG/AFTRA and is proud to be a Word for Word core company member.

Rudy Guerrero* (Al, Sal's father, Ensemble) is an actor whose previous Word for Word credits include Stories: Night Vision by Emma Donohue and Silence by Colm Toibin; Food Stories: Sorry Fugu by T.C.Boyle and Enough by Alice McDermott as well as Stories by Tobias Wolff: Last of the North American Martyrs and Bullet in the Brain. Other theater credits include performances at 42nd St. Moon, American Conservatory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Central Works, Connecticut Repertory Theater, Foothill Music Theater, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Magic Theatre, Marin Shakespeare Company, Marin Theatre Company, Playground, Playwrights Foundation, SF Playhouse, Theatre Rhinoceros, and TheatreWorks.  Rudy has a BFA in Musical Theater from the Boston Conservatory and a MFA in Acting from the American Conservatory Theater.

Ixtlán* (Marco) is an actor and artist from Northern California. He studied in Los Angeles, New York, New Mexico, and in the school of life. Él va con Dios. 

Carolina Morones (Ofelia, Ensemble) is a multidisciplinary performer, educator and community organizer focused on telling stories that empower through poetry and movement. Recently, she played the role of Marina in Pericles, Prince of Tyre (SF Shakes). In 2020 she was the Movement Director and Cultural Consultant for Octavio Solis’ Retablos: Life on the Border (Word for Word, Z Space). Carolina currently teaches for The American Conservatory Theatre (Studio-ACT), Word For Word (SF) and is the Education & Engagement Consultant for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Recipient of the 2023 Creative Work Fund, as playwright of Querida Sor Juana: The Death of the Phoenix of Mexico in collaboration with SF Shakespeare Festival. 

Ryan Tasker* (Mike, Ensemble) is a Word for Word Core Company member and has appeared in their productions of Retablos, You Know When the Men Are Gone, and Three on a Party.  He has also acted and directed for their Off the Page series, with some favorites being Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem and Chekhov's The Lady With the Dog. He has also worked with Marin Theatre Company, American Conservatory Theater, the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Aurora Theatre Company, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Shotgun Players, and the Livermore Shakespeare Festival, among others.

Word for Word's Off the Page Staged Reading Series 2023

Word for Word's Off the Page staged reading series is the public's first look at pieces we are considering for upcoming productions. With a public staged reading of a short story, we invite audiences to see the steps of our process of bringing a work from the page to the stage in the Word for Word style. After the reading, the audience is encouraged to engage in a conversation with us, which gives valuable feedback as we decide on the next steps of a work's development.

October 30:  "How Fear Departed the Long Gallery" by E. F. Benson  Directed by Wendy Radford

At Z Below, 470 Florida St., SF 94110

December 4:  “Carried Away” by Alice Munro  Directed by Jim Cave (rights pending)

At Z Below, 470 Florida St., SF 94110

Word for Word Performing Arts Company, a program of Z Space, is an ensemble whose mission is to tell great stories with elegant theatricality, staging performances of classic and contemporary fiction. Founded in 1993 by Susan Harloe and JoAnne Winter, Word for Word believes in the power of the short story to provide solace, compassion, and insight into our daily lives. They bring stories from diverse cultures to diverse communities, and develop audiences’ love for the printed and spoken word. Word for Word is currently led by Artistic Director JoAnne Winter alongside Associate Artistic Director Vanessa Flores Chacko.

Z Space empowers artistic risk, collaboration, and camaraderie amongst artists, audience, and community in the service of creating, developing, and presenting new work. Keystone initiatives include New Work, a development, production, and presentation program that supports artists and ensembles from conception to realization of unique works; Word for Word, a resident theater company that transforms works of literature verbatim to the stage; Youth Arts, an arts education program promoting literacy and creativity; and the curated rental and residency programs which open our venues for use by a variety of other artists and arts groups.

Photo Credit: Robbie Sweeny

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