La Ruta

NORTHAMPTON, MA – The Smith College Department of Theatre presents La Ruta by Isaac Gómez in Theatre 14 on April 21, 22, 27, 28, 29 at 7:30 p.m. directed by Monica Lopez Orozco. To the U.S.-owned factories in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, La Ruta is just a bus. But to the hundreds of women who live, work, and often disappear along the route, it symbolizes much more than that. Inspired by real testimonies, and using live music to evoke factory work and protest marches, La Ruta is a visceral unearthing of secrets buried in the desert and a celebration of the Mexican women who stand resiliently in the wake of loss.

Isaac Gómez is an award-winning Chicago and Los Angeles-based playwright and screenwriter originally from El Paso, Texas/Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. He wrote La Ruta as a love letter to the women in his life. In an interview promoting the 2018 world premiere at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, Gómez says that La Ruta is a play about a group of women who are living in the wake of unthinkable tragedy. “It’s a play about sisters, it’s a play about mothers, it’s a play about best friends,” he explains “The circumstances around the missing and murdered women of Juarez is the backdrop of what is actually a play about an interpersonal journey of healing, of growth, of resilience, and of empowerment.” Broadway World called the play a “Bold, beautiful and timely piece of art… The setting may be Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, but the struggles of these poor, strong, beautiful women are universal. La Ruta is a must-see.”

The Smith production is directed by Monica Lopez Orozco, the Theatre Department’s newest faculty member. “I chose La Ruta for numerous reasons. I feel strongly that it is a story that people should know about. Femicide is a humanitarian crisis, at the root of which is an inability to see women as human beings who are worthy of fundamental human rights—worthy of safety, of autonomy, of life itself,” she explains, “Another reason for choosing La Ruta is because, as a Mexican-American woman, I feel it is my responsibility to tell this particular story of my sisters, so that they are not forgotten.”

The 9-member Latina cast features actors from Smith and Amherst College along with community members. Traditional Mexican music is played and sung by the ensemble creating transitions between past and present. The play moves back and forth in time to build the relationships of this tight group of women who work together in one of the many garment factories that opened along the border after the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement was signed. There is grief and anger, but there is also the laughter, playful banter, and mutual support between mothers, daughters, friends, and co-workers.

The factory, bus stop, homes, and desert that the play inhabits have been created by a production team of faculty and students: set designer Maggie Landis ’24, lighting designer, Nan Zhang, costume designer Aimee Dupont ’23, projections and sound design by Reina Makimura ’23, and musical direction by Katie Gobreski ’23.

“My hope is that the audience leaves with love and compassion for the women in the story,” says Lopez Orozco “I hope they recognize and honor the resilience and power of the women left who are fighting for justice and ask what they can do to support and hold them up.”

Tickets are free for Smith students by emailing Reserved tickets are $5–10 online. Spanish language translation is available at the April 27, 28, and 29 performances. Audiences should know that this play is about femicide and contains strong language, references to sexual violence, trafficking, and simulated fireworks. It is appropriate for people ages 16 and up. For more information contact