Cloud Tectonics Visitor Guide

By Jose Rivera  |  Directed by Herbert Sigüenza
Previews January 26 – February 2, 2018
$25 Reserved Preview Seating or Pay-What-You-Can at the Door (limited availability)
Runs February 3 – 25, 2018
General Admission: $36; Seniors/Military: $33; Students (with Student ID): $25
Tickets & Info:  |  760.433.3245


When Aníbal de la Luna meets pregnant Celestina del Sol at a rainy bus stop, he offers her shelter for the night. As the two get to know each other, they realize that time and love don't always behave quite how they should. This masterpiece of magical realism explores how the elemental forces shape who we become, and is directed by one of the most influential Latinx theatre-makers in America, Culture Clash co-founder Herbert Sigüenza.
Cloud Tectonics is a part of NVA’s new bilingual Teatro Pueblo Nuevo initiative, and will include many surround events celebrating our Latinx community.
Cloud Tectonics es parte de la nueva iniciativa bilingüe del Teatro Pueblo Nuevo de NVA e incluirá muchos eventos que celebran nuestra comunidad Latinx.    
Note: The play is presented almost entirely in English. Some Spanish is spoken throughout, but Cloud Tectonics is accessible to all audiences.
Runtime: 90 minutes, no intermission
Advisory: Strong language and sexuality; recommended for ages 16 and up.


Parking: Free parking is available on the street or in the transit parking lot to the northwest of the theatre. Parking is more difficult on Friday and Saturday nights, so we recommend leaving a little extra time for traffic and parking.
Dining: There are many local restaurants and bars in walking distance to NVA. Some of our favorites include Park 101 (American), Hennessey’s (Irish Pub), Garcia’s (Mexican), Vigilucci’s (Italian), Blue Ocean (Japanese/Sushi), Campfire (American), Gregorio’s (Italian), and Compass (Gastropub).
At the Theatre: NVA has a bar with liquor, beer, wine, and snacks. You may also want to leave a little extra time to enjoy the Foundry Artist Studios, where sixteen resident artists have working studios, a gallery space, and works for sale. During the run of CLOUD TECTONICS, The Foundry will feature a showcase of director Herbert Sigüenza’s visual art.  


“sweet and touching, a mystical love story for the millennium.” – Variety
An “enchanting new play... that stops your heart as surely as it does
your sense of time and space.” - Los Angeles Times
"a brief and lovely play… a love story [that is] also a story of theatrical enchantment,
in which the ordinary is suddenly transformed into the miraculous.” - Chicago Tribune


José Rivera wrote Cloud Tectonics in the early 1990s. Sarah Rothbard described the 1990s in LA as “Both Heaven and Hell,” and Rivera’s works reflect that (his play Marisol sees LA become a battleground between heavenly forces that threaten to tear reality itself apart). The ‘90s were particularly difficult for LA’s minority populations and impoverished communities, as both natural disasters and social/economic/cultural injustices were most devastating to communities that were already marginalized. The April 1992 riots, in response to the acquittal of four white LAPD officers who brutally beat black motorist Rodney King, lasted nearly a week and left 63 people dead, over 2,000 injured, over 12,000 arrested, and resulted in over $1 billion dollars in damage to the city--much of which was in communities that were already much in need of assistance. Proposition 187 was passed in 1994, which sought to prohibit illegal aliens from using non-emergency health care, public education, and other services in California. In 1994 the Northridge earthquake destroyed large sections of the city. The list goes on: wildfires, mudslides, “white flight” (the exodus of white citizens from parts of the city as an attempt to avoid integration), the recession of the early ‘90s…
Fernando Guerra, director for the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University recalls that the first half of the decade was “horrendous,” and this seems to be what Rivera is responding to in Cloud Tectonics. In many ways, Rivera’s works also signal a shift toward the latter half of the 1990s, when LA became a place where 
culture was made and artists, writers, and performers became a force to be reckoned with.

In Cloud Tectonics, the characters must deal with a city that seems to be rebelling against their very existence, but they hold out hope for a brighter future, and they recognize that LA has the potential to emerge from disaster with a newfound sense of purpose and cultural significance—which is precisely what eventually happened in the late 1990s.


“In magical realism, time is often everything, but
the clock is nothing.  The minute hand is replaced by
the breath, the hour hand by a rhythm of yawns.”
- Alberto Rios, Poet

Rivera’s style is an homage to writers like playwright and poet Federico García Lorca, famous for introducing the tenets of 1920s European movements (e.g.: symbolism, futurism, and surrealism) into Spanish literature with his poetry and plays such as Blood Wedding (1932) and The House of Bernarda Alba (1936); and Gabriel Garcia Márquez, a Colombian author best known for his landmark novel, Cien años de soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude, 1967). In many ways, a direct line could be drawn through history between Lorca, Márquez, and Rivera (Rivera even studied screenwriting with Márquez in 1989).

Each author presents human stories that are affected by unexplainable, almost supernatural circumstances and events as metaphors for their times—this confluence of the real and the fantastic is a core element of magic realism. Notably, the most significant contributions to magic realism have come from Hispanic authors and artists. Though magic realism is difficult to quantify, Matthew Strecher defines it as “what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe” (“Magic Realism and the Search for Identity”, 1999). It should be noted that Rivera himself objects to this term, and instead prefers to think of Cloud Tectonics as a love story—the magic we experience with Celestina is simply a representation of how love can change our perception of the world around us.

What does the title mean?
Rivera borrows a term from geology to describe the enigmatic ways clouds break up and re-form, constantly changing and impossible to comprehend. In the play, it becomes a metaphor for unexplainable fates and the magic of kismet. Ultimately, the title, like the play itself, is a melding of the recognizable and the fantastic—we know what clouds are, and we understand tectonics, but together they form something entirely new, somewhat confusing, and infinitely intriguing.


Season Seventeen at New Village Arts marks the first year of programming for TEATRO PUEBLO NUEVO, NVA's new bilingual and bicultural outreach initiative. TPN features Latinx-centered community outreach events and theatrical productions in conjunction with New Village Arts.

TPN began its programming with the Hispanic Heritage Month Celebración in September of 2017. This event celebrated the presence of Latinx culture in San Diego with interactive art by Foundry Artists and a dance floor that got everyone up and dancing! It featured performances by Melba Novoa Flamenco, a presentation of Cuban rueda de casino by EscoRueda, and the youth group Sonares de mi Tierra from the House of Panama in Balboa Park.

In December of 2017, TPN produced its first show, the all-ages bilingual musical CINDERELLA EATS RICE AND BEANS: A SALSA FAIRY TALE by Karen Zacarias with music by Deborah Wicks-La Puma, directed by Associate Artistic Director Nadia Guevara. Thanks to sponsorship from Wells Fargo and The Loftin firm, this show was presented as a free event for our community.

In January 2018, CINDERELLA presented an encore performance at the Dove Library Schulman auditorium, thanks to support from the City of Carlsbad.

Now, we are thrilled to present the first TPN mainstage production, CLOUD TECTONICS by the Oscar-nominated José Rivera, directed by Herbert Siguenza of Culture Clash and Pixar’s Coco.

TPN would not be possible without the support of our community partners: Mana de North County San Diego, Tierra Caliente Academy of the Arts, and the Cal State San Marcos Latinx Center.

If you would like to help sponsor Teatro Pueblo Nuevo's growing bilingual and bicultural outreach arts programming, contact Nadia Guevara at

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