This past Sunday, CoActive Content of Los Feliz held our first “talk back Q and A” after the matinee performance of the new production of the play The King of the Desert. There were comments from people of Armenian,Persian, Mormon, Anglo Saxon and various other backgrounds that spoke to the connection each felt to this Mexican American story. As a writer and human rights activist, this was a dream come true. Our goal with this production was always to connect diverse audiences through theater. One of the challenges with this play is that often times people assume they will not relate to the material. It breaks my heart because the beauty of this experience for us as artists has been to witness groups of strangers from different backgrounds find common experiences in a darkened theater. Small theater in Los Angeles is tough enough without the added pressure of convincing people that they will relate to the story. Yet, it is a difficulty worth overcoming. With immigration on the nation’s mind it is important to remember that there is a Mexican American story that often gets overlooked. Our greatest hope as a company is to open a dialogue and remind audiences that although our cultural identities matter immensely, we are more alike than we realize. We want to reach the Latino population that may not ordinarily go to theater and the non Latino population that needs to hear this story. The reviews, audience response and word of mouth have been terrific. We have built it, now we wait. This weekend please use code Desert for 40% off general admission! For more info and tickets please visit http://www.thekingofthedesert.com/
“‘Desert’ is a riveting, profound, and moving portrayal of a middle-class family from the 1960s to the present that offers a particular version of the Mexican-American experience. You might want to see it before the next GOP presidential debate”……..“this one-act, 80-minute production is packed with so many vivid scenes — many of which involve running, jumping, or fighting — that it simply couldn’t last any longer. Rivera would appear to have the stamina of an NBA point guard.”……“In autobiography — or biography written by one’s spouse — what doesn’t make the cut is as important as what does. From what must have been hundreds of possible scenes, Martino and Rivera have chosen wisely. Their collaboration and the directing of Sal Romeo has produced a superb play that could not be better-timed. ‘The King of the Desert’ is more genuinely American than any super-sized patriotic rally.” – Thomas Waldman, www.nohoartsdistrict.com,
“ René Rivera Gets Royal Reception Opening Night. A near capacity crowd at El Portal Theatre gave René Rivera a standing ovation at the end of his one-person performance at last Thursday’s opening night production of ‘The King of the Desert.’ …. Both the writing and the acting are brilliant and insightful. Martino’s intricately structured script and crisp sentences provide the material that Rivera uses to build a highly polished and deeply moving performance….Rivera and director Sal Romeo we see true masters at work….Rivera’s performance was masterful last year and is masterful this time. What’s taken a quantum leap is the physicality of what he does on stage…. ‘What we saw was a dance!’….“Romeo and Rivera have taken full advantage of the opportunities which the larger stage has offered them. Don’t miss the opportunity to see the fruits of their work. If you missed the play last year, don’t blow it again. If you did see the play last time, you’ll enjoy it even more the second time around.
- Andres Chavez, The San Fernando Valley Sun
” Visceral and electric……Rivera buzzes with energy, a human pinball careening around the stage. Incredibly passionate and expressive, he demonstrates a cheeky sense of humor as well as determination and drive….. Jeremy Pivnick perfectly set scenes with his moody, evocative lighting, beautifully blending with Danuta Tomzynski’s simple, elegant set. Both anchored by strong visual images projected that further refine place. The King of the Desert grabs you by the seat of the pants and doesn’t let you go.” - Mary Mallory, The Tolucan Times
“ A Passionate, dramatic, oft times humorous account of one actor’s life and his journey of self discovery.”.……” Rivera gives an amazing performance with humor and high energy.” - Theda Kleinhans Reichman, Valley News Group
” Like Rivera, we discover how art can transform our history and release our inner beingness.”- Robert Machray, Blog Critics.org