Department of Theatre Arts opens spring season with Braided Sorrow

Horror and mythology collide in a hauntingly beautiful story set in Juárez, Mexico, and written by 2018 MFA grad.
Thursday, February 2, 2023

The Department of Theatre Arts is pleased to announce its production of Braided Sorrow by Marisela Treviño Orta (MFA ’18), presented February 3-5 and February 8-11 in the David Thayer Theatre at the UI Theatre Building.

Braided Sorrow is set in the Mexican city of Juárez (the border town of El Paso, TX), where sixteen-year-old Alma works 12-hour shifts in an American-owned factory to help financially provide for her family. Alma quickly learns the dangers of the city–the hundreds of femicides and disappearances–lurking outside of the factory’s walls.

Alma is set on a treacherous journey, calling on her bravery to end the unnatural nightmares of Juárez. Treviño Orta infuses magical realism into this work through the non-linear timeline and in the misconception of the Mexican folklore legend and Aztec goddess, La Llorona.

La Llorona is an ancient deity, an omen, and a grieving mother; she is La Virgen. She is seeking justice for her lost daughters,” explains director and UI Theatre MFA student Natalie Villamonte Zito.

This mysterious woman with a tragic past tries to protect Alma from danger and asks her to take on a mission in the hopes that it will protect the women of Juárez and give voice to those who have already been lost.

Treviño Orta’s poetic Braided Sorrow shines light on the horrors that have been happening in Juárez for decades, of which many U.S. citizens are unaware. This rendition is especially impactful as the cast is largely made up of Latinx Theatre students. “We are proud of our Latine’ cast for sharing their authentic perspectives, and for embracing the vulnerability it takes to portray this story. The importance of their voices around this topic is indescribable,” says Theatre Arts Chair and Head of Directing Mary Beth Easley. “I am especially honored to feature the work and collaboration of Latina artists Marisela Treviño Orta, Villamonte Zito, and Alex Casillas (MFA ‘17) as their work on the issue of femicides is notably poignant.”

Student tickets are only $5. Performance times are February 3 at 8 p.m. (Opening), February 4 at 8 p.m., February 5 at 2 p.m., and February 8-11 at 8 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit or call Hancher Box Office at 319-335-1160.

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The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa is a comprehensive college offering 73 majors in the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. More than 17,000 undergraduate and 1,900 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by professors at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all UI undergraduates through the General Education Program, and confers about 70 percent of the UI's bachelor's degrees each academic year.