Afterward, Orozco, who had accompanied the playwright to the meeting, cried from frustration. Rivas wasn't out to exploit the violence of the crime or to mine that story for its salacious details or operating-room gore. We need to talk about sexual and domestic violence in the open, Rivas said - "and not just in the Latino community." There aren't many plays that deal with the subject, at least not set in America: The Pulitzer Prize-winning "Ruined" dealt with the rape and sexual abuse of women in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.The classic "Death and the Maiden" features a woman taking vengeance on a sadistic captor for her torture and rape in an unnamed Latin America country.If you or a friend are being stalked, you can get free help.
Still, Rivas didn't want to write another "Extremities," the 1980s revenge fantasy that unfolds in the living room of a farmhouse in middle-of-nowhere New Jersey where a woman named Marjorie subdues her would-be rapist Raul with bug killer, trusses him up and stuffs him in her fireplace.
She then turns the tables on her attacker, terrifying and brutalizing him, as he did her.
"That's always how I expressed my feelings for him. When I look in the mirror, I don't see myself anymore - I see you. Though he spoke extensively with Dissell and Orozco when doing research for the script, Rivas didn't talk to Ruiz or those close to him. There had been inquires from book publishers and TV and movie producers.
"My heart shattered into pieces because of the decisions you've made. "Maybe somebody out there wants to tell the Juan story," he said, "but that wasn't what was interesting to me." "It was Orozco's inspiring saga of strength and courage that stuck in Rivas' mind like an insistent memory when he stumbled onto the extraordinary narrative. She and Orozco had nixed most of them, save an appearance on "20/20" after the series ran.
Based on the Plain Dealer series "Johanna: Facing Forward" by Rachel Dissell and the journals of Johanna Orozco. "Great," says director and playwright Tlaloc Rivas.