Meetup #15: The River Bride


WWSF hosted its 15th Meetup and the first of 2014 at Alter Theater, (incidentally, also our first Meetup in the North Bay), to see Marisela Treviño Orta’s award-winning and critically-acclaimed play, The River Bride. Developed within AlterTheater’s inaugural playwright residency program, The River Bride is co-winner of 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.

Robert Hurwitt at SFGate called the production a “flowing, sly delight”:

“Partly based on Brazilian folklore about river dolphins that come ashore to seduce the local women, “Bride” is an engrossing blend of magical realism, once-upon-a-time fantasy and cautionary tale. Whether the moral is to be careful how you interpret local lore, to be bold in pursuit of love or to beware of younger sisters is for you to decide. However you take it, “Bride” is a sly delight with a deceptively easy-going flow – rather like that river.”

Women theater artists involved in this production: Marisela Treviño Orta (playwright); Anne Brebner and Jeanette Harrison (Directors); Livia Demarchi, Carla Pauli, Cathleen Riddley* (Cast); Courtney Flores (Costume Designer), Madeleine Oldham (Sound Designer), Wiljago Jean Cook (Space Designer), Selina G Young (lightning designer), Mina Sohaa Smith (Dramaturg/Stage Manager), Anna McShea (production)

If you were part of the Meetup or have seen the play, leave us a note with your thoughts!

7 responses to “Meetup #15: The River Bride

  1. This was a beautiful fairy tale with strong, emotionally grounded acting, and the added treat of a fantastic atmospheric sound design by Madeline Oldham, that featured singing & original music by members of the cast including Cathleen Riddley.

  2. At the close of THE RIVER BRIDE I sat still for a few moments under a shower of silvery crushed stars! Latter i identified the experience as having been enchanted.
    The play was beautifully, softly written, perfectly cast and directed. And the music set to it ideal– especially those times in the production when exquisite, short, subtle notes identified the surreal.

  3. A beautiful script executed with fine acting and remarkable sound design. I delighted in the cultural nuances and poignant discussions of true love.

  4. This was one of my favorite Meetups so far. The audience was miraculously transported from a tiny San Rafael storefront, with only a few cubes for a set, to a mythical village on the Amazon. Brava! And thank you for the lovely play, Marisela! I appreciated that it did not shy away from sentiment (not to be confused with sentimentality). All the characters were well-drawn but it was a special treat to see the depiction of such a loving middle-aged couple–enchantingly portrayed by Cathleen Riddley and Matt Kizer.

  5. I’m still thinking about The River Bride several days later. The play is only the third full-length by Marisela Treviño Orta, but it has such fantastic craft! The story unfolds with beautiful simplicity but also develops in ways that are surprising and which ultimately leave the audience with some complex moral conundrums to chew on. I’ve never seen an Alter Theater show before, and I confess that I was a little skeptical about the production values of storefront theater. But the staging and production design were fantastic – evocative, inventive, and thoroughly engaging. The show was sold out the night we attended, so get your tickets fast!

  6. The gender roles were disappointingly conventional, but the young woman in the main role acted with a deep sincerity that made her innocense and confusion compelling. I was strangely moved by the ending.

  7. This was my first AlterTheatre company show, and I love how they perform in a different vacant storefront for each production, it’s brilliant! The play was beautiful, poetic, classic. I wish my Brasilian family could see this folk tale adapted for the stage. Congratulations to everyone for their hard work, well done!

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