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Based on the Plain Dealer series "Johanna: Facing Forward" by Rachel Dissell and the journals of Johanna Orozco. "Great," says director and playwright Tlaloc Rivas.
Approximate running time: Two hours, including one 15-minute intermission.
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Rivas and his wife, Megan Monaghan Rivas, who is acting as dramaturg on the production, see Orozco as "the live representative of a lot of dead girls." Like Shynerra Grant, a 17-year-old from Toledo killed in 2005 by a former boyfriend who had stalked her for months.CLEVELAND, Ohio - Tania Benites, who plays Johanna Orozco in the new play that opens at Cleveland Public Theatre on Friday, May 29, sits in a hospital bed listening to voice-mail messages. Where: CPT's Gordon Square Theatre, 6415 Detroit Ave, Cleveland. The first is from a teacher at Lincoln West High School, asking the 18-year-old senior about some missing homework.For those who don't know Orozco's story, one told in a gripping series of newspaper articles by Plain Dealer reporter Rachel Dissell, the calls are breadcrumbs, marking a curious trail. She'll need to finish the assignments so she can graduate. "Listen, don't worry about what everyone's saying - Michelle and I are gonna make you look bea-u-ti-ful! Michael Fritz, Johanna's surgeon, who reconstructed her ruined face and jaw.The characters of Ruiz and Orozco address the court, as did their real-life counterparts. Please forgive me - I never meant to harm any of you." As Orozco, Benites stands. "It's not apologetic at all." The director is pleased. But Rivas' play is not about the boy who fired the shot and shattered a girl's heart. "This story haunted me for several years before I actually, like, got the gumption to say, 'Hey, I'm Tlaloc. As always, Dissell - who, along with Plain Dealer photographer Gus Chan, appears as a character in the play - responded with caution.Ruiz, played by Jason Estremera, gives a short, stilted statement - "Please forgive me for everything I have done. "I wrote a poem for Juan," she says, before launching into her speech. Before rehearsal earlier that day, and in interviews in preceding months as he worked on "Johanna," Rivas explained his process - and his fascination with the story of the girl who refused to be defined by her scars. The real-life drama had all the ingredients the playwright was looking for: Not only did it feature a Latino girl, but it was also set "in Cleveland, in the Midwest, and not in New York or L. It wasn't the first time someone had contacted her wanting to dramatize Orozco's life.