“Cloud Tectonics” represents the start of Teatro Dallas’ new international direction as it heads towards its 40th anniversary

An inside look at Teatro Dallas’ production of “Cloud Tectonics” running through June 1 at the Latino Cultural Center.

Teatro Dallas "Cloud Tectonics" cast
The cast of Teatro Dallas’ production of “Cloud Tectonics” – Courtesy of Teatro Dallas/Mac Welch

For Teatro Dallas, its ongoing production of “Cloud Tectonics” not only represents a continuation of the company’s nearly four decades spotlighting Hispanic and Latin American theater but also its long-standing commitment to bringing exceptional international works to DFW audiences.

Founded in 1985 by Cora Cardona and her late husband Jeff Hurst, Teatro Dallas began after Cardona saw the lack of Latin American productions in the area. She described how Teatro Dallas’ productions “became very popular and liked because they were also plays that were not the stereotype that most people conceived of Mexicans and Latin Americans.”

Cardona recalled how she brought the Mexican theatrical tradition of the Days of the Dead and Teatro Dallas’ annual International Theater Festival to Dallas. The latter has now surpassed 20 years of its own in Dallas and become a focal point for the theater as it moves into its fourth decade.

According to Teatro Dallas Resident Producer and Marketing Coordinator Mac Welch, “Cloud Tectonics” is “the first show of the new wave, the new direction” for the theater as it places an even greater emphasis on international works.

Welch said Teatro Dallas has realized that while remaining “a pillar of Latinx theater in the community is always going to be important,” the organization also provides Dallas with a consistent outlet for international theater. “We wanted to lean into that and make sure that was not only something that we do but really the center of our organization,” Welch said, emphasizing that Teatro Dallas will always stay true to its Latin roots.

Welch said Teatro Dallas plans to start going to artists important to the local community to ask them what they would want to direct “under this umbrella of international theater.” That was the case when Welch contacted director and actor Sasha Maya Ada about directing a show for Teatro Dallas.

Ada chose “Cloud Tectonics” by Academy Award-nominated Puerto Rican Playwright and Screenwriter José Rivera. The show follows the magical connection between a pregnant hitchhiker named Celestina who’s picked up in the middle of an immense storm by Aníbal, a motorcyclist working at LAX. Aníbal brings Celestina back to his home, where they eventually encounter his brother, Nelson, who returns unexpectedly from war. What sparks from the encounter between Celestina and Aníbal promises to change the lives of each of them.

Ada’s decision to choose “Cloud Tectonics” came from exploring and embracing her own roots. “My dad is from Nicaragua. I don’t have a relationship with my father. I don’t speak Spanish, but my mother has done her darndest trying to make sure that she keeps that in my mind, and that’s a part of who I am,” Ada said. She explained that when she first learned about the term Afro-Latina in 2020, she felt it made sense to her. “As you direct, as you invest in your own artistry, it’s often a mirror to your own self (and) to where your own areas of growth are,” Ada said. “So, I don’t think it is wild that this story has come in at this specific part of my life.”

Ada enjoyed exploring the show’s influences in her preparation for the production. She talked with people who have Puerto Rican roots and got a better understanding “of the impact of what we know as magical realism, but that’s sort of evolved into mad realism.”

When it came time for casting, Ada and Welch wanted actors who could authentically handle the script’s language. “There’s a lot of poetic language, and it’s so easy when you have a term like magical realism that’s been blanketed over works like this that it becomes a metaphor for something, but these words are their truth,” Ada said.

“We found a really lovely cast of people that were able to access the language in a way that felt extremely personable and relatable…rather than treating it like this huge magical thing,” Welch said, adding that they wanted actors who instead treated the show and its dialogue “like it’s happening in front of them.”

Overall, Welch called “Cloud Tectonics” a “fulfilling watch” that provides audiences with “a safe night of introspection.” Likewise, Ada has left her time with “Cloud Tectonics” with the reminder that we should “hold onto and cherish” the “specificity of love (and) the expansiveness of love” experienced within the show’s story. “Even if (that love) comes in the blink of an eye, it still has worth…and it can stay with you, and it can impact you,” Ada said.

The Teatro Dallas production of “Cloud Tectonics” runs through June 1 at the Latino Cultural Center. For more information, including how to purchase tickets, visit https://teatrodallas.org/.

These interviews have been edited for clarity.


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