The NNPN Rolling World Premiere of INTO THE BEAUTIFUL NORTH by Karen Zacarías Opens in San Diego and Chicago

Apr 4, 2017

Washington, D.C. - The National New Play Network, the country's alliance of nonprofit theaters that champions the development, production, and continued life of new plays, celebrates the success of its 57th Rolling World Premiere, Into the Beautiful North by Karen Zacarías. The play is an adaptation based on the award winning book of the same name by Luis Alberto Urrea. It received its first and second productions of the Roll spring 2016 at NNPN Core Member Milagro (Portland, OR) and in the fall at Associate Member Central Works (Berkeley, CA). On April 5, San Diego REPertory Theatre (CA) will open its production, running through April 23, 2017). 16th Street Theatre (Berwyn, IL) finishes the Roll from April 13 through May 20.

“From poverty to corruption to misogyny to the power of being female, the play brings to life the extreme difficulty of life in Mexico, and the pride and determination of its citizens…With a touch of magic realism and a hint of madcap adventure, there is humor amid the grim circumstances, and celebration…”

- Meg Currell, Edge Media Network

Into the Beautiful North is a patchwork quilt of cultural references from south to north and back again…though moments seem supernatural, they are rooted in real life.”

- Christa McIntyre, Oregon Artswatch

“…it manages to take the disheartening raw material and, through the alchemy of inspired satire, turn it into a laugh-filled theatrical experience…. but this Urrea/Zacarías collaboration…has the added merit of never allowing the humor to blind us to the plight of characters who are more than just two-dimensional comic creations.”

- Charles Brousse, Pacific Sun

“The American theater needs this fast-paced cast, who remind us of Don Quixote’s quest, including characters from varied origins, sexes and ways of living. “

- Benjamin R. Garcia, Theatrius

In a Rolling World Premiere, NNPN provides production support to the playwright and the partnering theaters, including assistance with the creation and the contracting of the premiere agreement, collaborative interactions between the theaters, and funds for the playwright's residency in each city to further develop the play.


All the men of the sleepy Mexican village of Tres Camarones have left town in search of fortune in the USA. Bandidos are threatening to take over the defenseless town. One night, 19 year old Nayeli watches “The Magnificent Seven” at the local cinema and has a flash of inspiration. She grabs her goth best friend Vampi and her gay confidant Tacho, and sets out on a quest of epic proportions – to find men in the U.S.A. and smuggle them back across the border to repopulate and protect her beloved town! And so begins a 1,000 mile road trip from the Pacific Coast of Mexico through the colorful streets of Tijuana to the climactic scene at the Bahia Hotel in Mission Bay, San Diego.


Karen Zacarías was recently hailed by American Theater Magazine as one of the most produced playwrights in the USA. Her play Destiny of Desire is currently playing at The Goodman Theatre and slated for The Oregon Shakespeare Festival next year. Her play Native Gardens is slated for 10 productions in the next year including The Guthrie, Arena Stage, Trinity Rep, Denver Center, Old Globe Theater, Orlando Shakespeare and others. She is proud to be Arena Stage’s first resident playwright. Other plays include: Mariela in the Desert, Legacy of Light, The Book Club Play, The Sins of Sor Juana, the adaptations of Just Like Us, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent,  and of course, Into the Beautiful North,  Oliverio: A Brazilian Twist , Ella Enchanted: The Musical, and many more . She collaborated on the libretto for Sleepy Hollow and Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises for the Washington Ballet at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and written 10 TYA musicals with composer Deborah Wicks La Puma. Her plays have been produced at The Kennedy Center, The Goodman Theater, South Coast Rep, The Guthrie, Cincinnati Playhouse, RoundHouse Theater, GALA Hispanic Theater, Denver Theater Center, Dallas Theater Center and many more.  Karen is a core founder of the Latino Theatre Commons, a national network that strives to update the American narrative to including the stories of Latinos. She is the founder of Young Playwrights’ Theater, an award-winning theater company that teaches playwriting in local public schools in Washington, D.C. Karen lives in D.C. with her husband and three children.


Hailed by NPR as a "literary badass" and a "master storyteller with a rock and roll heart," Luis Alberto Urrea is a prolific and acclaimed writer who uses his dual-culture life experiences to explore greater themes of love, loss and triumph. A 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for nonfiction and member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame, Urrea is the critically acclaimed and best-selling author of 16 books, winning numerous awards for his poetry, fiction and essays. Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and American mother, Urrea is most recognized as a border writer, though he says, "I am more interested in bridges, not borders."  Into the Beautiful North (2010) is a Big Read selection by the National Endowment of the Arts and has been selected by more than 30 different cities and colleges as a community read. Other award-winning titles include The Water Museum (2015), The Hummingbird's Daughter (2005), The Devil's Highway (2004), Six Kinds of Sky (2002), Nobody's Son: Notes from an American Life (1999), The Fever of Being (1994), and Across the Wire (1993). Urrea attended the University of California at San Diego, earning an undergraduate degree in writing, and did his graduate studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He lives with his family in Naperville, IL, where he is a distinguished professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois-Chicago.


As the premier Latino arts and culture center of the Pacific Northwest, Milagro has provided extraordinary Latino theatre, culture, and arts education for the enrichment of all communities since 1985. Teatro Milagro, Milagro’s touring & arts education program, presents its original bilingual plays and educational residencies to diverse and underserved communities across the nation. On the mainstage, Milagro produces a full season of regional or world premieres, including one Spanish-language play each year, as well as our long-running Día de los Muertos signature production. We entertain our audiences; we give them pause to think, feel and imagine; and, through the cultural lens of latinidad, we reflect the full spectrum of humanity.


Central Works’ mission is to enrich the cultural environment of our community through the collaborative development and production of new plays for the theater. We are “The New Play Theater.” We write, develop, and produce world premieres, offering our community daring, intimate productions at affordable prices. We bring local theater artists together as partners in the creation and development of challenging new works, while maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and excellence. We think globally, and act locally:  we make plays.


Created to be a theater for people NOT going to the theater, 16th Street was founded in 2007 to serve and give voice to ALL in Berwyn’s community: not just for some in our community, but for all. Dedicated to artistic excellence, professionalism (paying artists a decent wage) diversity and affordability, 16th Street exists to encourage debate, discussion and compassion amongst our community through the medium of intimate and diverse theater with the playwright as its central focus. 16th Street is a place where audiences are invited to experience not only their own stories, but to experience their neighbors’ stories and stories of “the other.”


San Diego REPertory Theatre is downtown San Diego’s resident theater, promoting a more inclusive community through work that nourishes progressive political and social values. The company produces and hosts over 300 events and performances year-round on three stages at the Lyceum Theater; since its move to the Lyceum, the REP has produced 39 mainstage productions by Latino playwrights, and more than 40 world premieres.