Sneak peek: LUCHADORA set features original art by Bruce Guadalupe Middle School Students

First Stage’s upcoming world premiere LUCHADORA! is in part inspired by the Chinese legend of Mulan, and the strong women in playwright Alvaro Saar Rios’ family. Told through the prism of Mexican culture, this bold story is unlike anything First Stage has presented before. Integral to the story, is the set. Scenic Designer Sarah Hunt-Frank set about capturing the world of Lucha Libre, or Mexican masked wrestling, by incorporating the mask theme, iconic papel picado and of course a full-size wrestling ring. 

LUCHADORA! set model

Sarah and First Stage Artistic Director Jeff Frank, who directs LUCHADORA! collaborated with 120 Bruce Guadalupe Middle School students and their teachers, including art teacher Jacobo Lovo to create over 500 original pieces of papel picado. Instantly recognizable at religious, cultural and family celebrations in Mexico, papel picado, literally translated at “perforated paper,” is created by chiseling intricate designs in as many as 40 sheets of tissue paper at a time. This posed a bit of a conundrum for the LUCHADORA! set – due to its proximity to the theater lights, a thicker, flame retardant paper was used. Students created designs based on themes within the play including Lucha Libre masks, family, identity (a Luchador’s identity is closely guarded and never revealed), and honor. The papel picado created by students has been fully incorporated in to the set design, bursting off the stage, creating an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation of what’s to come!

Papel picado detail 
LUCHADORA! set at the Todd Wehr Theater

The discovery of a pink wrestling mask in her Nana Lupita’s briefcase sends Vanessa on an uncharted exploration into her Mexican American heritage, revealing family secrets that change her forever. Starting in 1960s small town Texas to present day Milwaukee, LUCHADORA! unmasks the significance of family traditions and the cultural identity that is shared by generations. For everyone ages 7 and up.

This world premiere play by Milwaukee-based playwright Alvaro Saar Rios opens April 10 and runs through April 26, 2015 at the Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater. Tickets and information available at or by phone at (414) 267-2961.

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