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Professor directs Childsplay world premiere, 'The Sun Serpent'

October 19, 2011

Weekend performances scheduled for Oct. 22-Nov. 13

The epic tale of Aztec culture and the Conquest of Mexico comes to life as never before in the latest Childsplay world premiere, "The Sun Serpent," directed by ASU's Rachel Bowditch.

Visual-based aesthetics, multimedia and movement will engulf the audience in the sights and sounds of the sea shore, jungles, waterfalls, and the legendary City of Dreams, transforming the experience far beyond the conventional drama.

At the center of the story is young Anáhuac who sees Cortés arrive and wonders, like the rest of his people, if Cortés is the Sun Serpent of Aztec legend rising from the sea to bring peace and harmony. Anáhuac believes so at first but soon realizes all is not what it seems. He sets out to warn his older brother who’s marching with the conquistadors and is forced to grapple with his own identity as the world around him is changing irrevocably.

The diverse team assembled for the project is unprecedented, reflecting the tremendous range of Arizona’s artistic community.

Bowditch, an assistant professor in ASU's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, brings a noted background in physical theatre and the use of movement to the production.

“It is an honor to direct the rich, dynamic story crafted by José Cruz González and to work with our amazing design team to create a potent, provocative, and moving glimpse into a part of history that is often overlooked,” said Bowditch. “This adventure story is not only entertaining but portrays the strength of the human spirit.”

Connie Furr-Soloman, associate professor, served as costume designed on the project.

Playwright José Cruz González’s (Tomás and the Library Lady) script incorporates English, Spanish and Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs.

Arizona master mask maker Zarco Guerrero created more than 30 original masks. Just three actors will perform more than 20 roles, making the masks a pivotal element of the storytelling.

Music composer Daniel Valdez developed a complete soundscape that includes distinctive musical motifs.

Film designed by Adam Larsen, reflecting Anáhuac’s journey, will be projected on screens throughout the theater creating an all-encompassing experience for audiences.

The show stars actors Ricky Araiza, Andrés Alcalá and Andrea Morales, rounding out the diverse artistic team.

Performances take place at the Tempe Center for the Arts – weekends only: Oct. 22 through Nov. 13. Flexible, discounted Play Passes and single tickets are available at or through the Tempe Center for the Arts box office at 480-350-2822.

The Sun Serpent is part of the first Celebración Artistica de las Américas (CALA), a biannual festival spotlighting Latino arts and culture venues Valleywide.