Cast and Crew

Paul S. Flores

PAUL S. FLORES (Playwright/Producer) is a published poet, performance artist, playwright, and well known spoken word artist. He was raised in Chula Vista, CA and spent much of his youth in Tijuana, Mexico. Flores’ 2003 PEN Award winning novel ALONG THE BORDER LIES reflects this experience. Flores' work explores the intersection of urban culture, Hip-Hop and transnational identity. His spoken word poem Brown Dreams from Def Poetry on HBO has been viewed on YouTube 100,000 times, and continues to inform and influence young people all over the United States. Flores’ performance projects have taken him from New York City to Cuba, Mexico and El Salvador. Flores’ play REPRESENTA! was directed by Danny Hoch, and co-starred Cuban rapper Julio Cardenas, and toured to 17 cities from 2007-2009. His newest play PLACAS: The Most Dangerous Tattoo premiered at the Lorraine Hansberry Theater in Union Square, San Francisco as a co-production of SFIAF and Central American Resource Center, and has toured 12 US Cities from 2012-2015 including The Los Angeles Theater Center, and Off Broadway at the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater in New York City.

Flores is one of the 2015 Doris Duke Artists. He was named the 2014 KQED Latino Heritage Local Hero for his work in theater, activism and youth development. In 2011, he was chosen the San Francisco Weekly's Best Politically Active Hip-Hop Performance Artist. Flores has received the National Performance Network Creation Fund, NEA Theater grant, San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Artist Grant, CCI Artistic Innovation Grant, and National Association for Latino Arts and Culture Fund for the Arts, among other awards.

Flores is a highly respected youth arts educator. As an original co-founder of Youth Speaks Inc. in 1996, he introduced spoken word to hundreds of thousands of youth all over the country, and helped develop the national platform for young people to build peer relationships and strategize toward a better future through the Brave New Voices: National Teen Poetry Slam, now seen on HBO. Flores currently directs the Latino Men & Boys Program, funded by The California Endowment, at The Unity Council in East Oakland. He is also adjunct faculty of Theater at the University of San Francisco. www.paulsflores.com

Emiliano Torres

Emiliano Torres (SCOOBY/LARGO) was born and raised in Oakland, California. Emi always found himself using any excuse to get on stage and entertain. He began his acting career by receiving a bachelor of arts degree in theatre from California State University, Long Beach. Even though he has worked on such films as Street Kings (2008), The Revenant (2009), and the family comedy, Christmas in Compton (2012), he prefers acting on the stage. Recent Television credits include 2 Broke Girls, Raising Hope, Weeds, Justified, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Pursuing his career in Los Angeles means being apart from his family in his native Oakland. Distance aside, Emi remains very close to his mom, "Muneca", who has fueled his dreams with love and support.

Zilah Mendoza

Zilah Mendoza Zilah Mendoza (CLAUDIA) has performed nationally originating roles such as Ana in Lisa Loomer’s hiy Living Out at The Mark Taper Forum and 2nd Stage, Matilde in Sara Rhul’s Pulitzer nominated The Clean House at Yale Rep, Electricidad in Luis Alfaro’s Electricidad, at The Mark Taper Forum and as Perla in Juliette Carrillos Plumas Negras with Corner Stone. She has garnered national recognition for her New York performances, receiving an OBIE, a Garland, a Lortel nod, for her portrayal of Ana. She has received numerous Back stage awards for her work in Los Angeles. She has worked in community arts enrichment programs with Malawi Children’s Village, Mentor Artists Playwrights Project, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Cornerstone. Zilah has had recurring and guest starring roles on such shows as The King of Queens, MAD TV, Law and Order, Medium, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Grey’s Anatomy, 24, Nip/Tuck and The Closer and Modern Family.

XAVI MORENO

XAVI MORENO (Edgar) is a native Angelino, born, raised, and staged “east of the river” in the historic barrio of Boyle Heights. A kaleidoscope of talent, Xavi has written, directed, produced, designed and performed for multiple theaters including Independent Shakespeare Co., Center Theater Group, Hero Theatre, Latino Theater Company, Cornerstone Theater, Frida Kahlo Theater, tounge in chic*ana, Company of Angels, Watts Village Theater Company, About Productions, Abundant Productions, & Casa 0101 to name a few. Grounded in his roots and community, Xavi teaches spoken word, theater, and creative writing through Los Poets del Norte, the Unusual Suspects and will.i.am's "i.am.college track" in Boyle Heights. Recognized as a Young Leader of Color by Theatre Communications Group, Xavi is also Marketing Director for The Los Angeles Theatre Center and Company of Angels. Xavi es una flor chillante that rose through cracked concrete into the spotlight. He is testimony to the positive power that the word and stage can unearth in youth who have been pushed out from schools, into gangs, inside jails and out to tell their story under the spotlight and beyond its boundaries. iamxavi.com

Fidel Gomez

Fidel Gomez (Director) Fidel Gomez is an actor, writer and director, born and raised in East L.A., and a proud graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts where he received a BFA in theater. He is also a founding member and co-creator of The Vault Ensemble, based at the Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC).

His most recent directorial work was the Ovation-Recommended production of "Danny and the Deep Blue Sea" by John Patrick Shanley at LATC. As a writer/director, his credits include "The Vault: Bankrupt" and "The Vault: Unlocked," which received favorable reviews in the Los Angeles Times, LA Stage Times, LA Weekly, Flavorpill (Pick of the Week), LAist and Backstage, and as a co-writer/actor, his credits include "Melancholia," which toured internationally to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Other acting credits include the national tour of "Placas"; "Just Like Us" at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts; the national tour of "Solitude"; and "The Merry Wives of Windsor" and "Romeo and Juliet" at Shakespeare Festival LA. His film and television credits include HBO’s "Walkout," "NCIS," "Undercovers," "Grey's Anatomy" and "7th Heaven."

Mr. Gomez can next be seen in the indie drama "Sister Cities" based on the play by Colette Freedman, and on stage as Dr. Diego Mendoza in the upcoming production of "Destiny of Desire" by Karen Zacarías at Arena Stage.

Eric Aviles

Eric Aviles (Sgt. Orozco/Nelson) is an actor, writer, and teaching artist and activist residing in NYC. Eric just wrapped up his performance in My Mañana Comes at Marin Theatre Company. In the fall of 2014, he performed in a remount of Borderlands Theatre Maria’s Circular Dance at the first National Latino Theatre Festival “Encuentro” in Los Angeles. In NYC, he’s performed in the World’s Fair Play Festival a co-production with Queens Theatre and Theatre 167, I Like to Be Here at the New Ohio for Theatre 167. Other NYC credits include original works; Dance for a Dollar at INTAR, and Golden Drum Year with Radical Evolution. In California, Eric wrote and performed In the Beginning accompanied music by five-time Grammy nominee John Santos. He performed in the world premiere of Oedipus: El Rey written by Luis Alfaro at The Magic Theatre. Other California acting credits include La Virgen del Tepeyac at El Teatro Campesino, and Teatro Vision in La Victima. A native of Chicago, Eric has acted in several productions at Steppenwolf, including Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train. Other Chicago credits include Zootsuit at the Goodman Theater and Love Medicine with Lifeline and Spider Women Theatre. Eric directed the world premiere Amor Cubano: In a Bottle, a Tube and Small Packet in San Francisco and New York City. You can see him in the first Puerto Rican Chicago film production, Chicago Boricua. He has over 15 years teaching artist experience working with youth and adults in schools, community centers, and prisons. He uses drama as a means of liberating the spirit within; advocating for those who feel “voiceless” to reclaim their authentic voice through writing and performance. ericaviles.com

SARITA OCÓN

SARITA OCÓN (Bugsy/Mama Nieves/Liz CARECEN Therapist) is an actor, visual artist, and digital media educator. She is thrilled to be back on the road, sharing the PLACAS story with audiences across the country. After originating the roles of Bugsy, Mama Nieves, and Liz in the world premiere production, Sarita toured nationally with the PLACAS ensemble in 2014. She was most recently seen performing in the world premiere production of Octavio Solis' Alicia's Miracle, a Story Works collaboration between The Center for Investigative Reporting and Tides Theatre. Favorite performances include Ravi Joseph's Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (San Francisco Playhouse), Octavio Solis' Ghosts of the River (ShadowLight Productions), La Casa en Mango Street and School of the Americas (Teatro Visión). Theatrical credits include performances with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Bindlestiff Studio, BRAVA Theater Center, CAL SHAKES, Campo Santo, Golden Thread Productions, Intersection for the Arts, The Playwrights Foundation, San Francisco Playhouse, San Francisco International Arts Festival, Shotgun Players, Teatro Visión and many others. Sarita holds a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity from Stanford University and was a recipient of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts Fellowship. She is a proud member of the Bay Area Latino Theatre Artists Network. Follow her journey on Instragram and Twitter: @OaklandColibrí | #TellingStoriesThatMatter

EDGAR BARBOZA

EDGAR BARBOZA (Homeboy2/Technician) was raised in the City of South Gate, CA. He's worked both locally and nationally on multiple projects ranging from film, television, and stage; including the feature films "Loco Love" and "Mo", the Showtime Channel short “The Invitation”, and the Latino Theater Company's staging of La Virgen de Gudalupe: Dios Inantzin. His most recent screen performance was in the LA Independent Film Festival's official selection short film, Here in the East. In early 2000, Edgar traveled to Cuba as part of a youth theater/cultural exchange with 11 other students from LA and their mentors from the groundbreaking UCLA youth arts program Equal Opportunity(EqOp). The following year, Edgar joined EqOp as they hosted a month-long cultural exchange with 12 theater students from South Africa at UCLA. Their collaboration was presented at both The Apollo theater in NYC and UCLA's Ralph Freud Theater. Edgar is proud to be touring the country with Placas.

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MICHAEL JOHN GARCÉS (Director) is the Artistic Director of Cornerstone Theater Company in Los Angeles where recent projects include California: The Tempest by Alison Carey, Plumas Negras by Juliette Carrillo and Café Vida by Lisa Loomer. Other directing credits include Wrestling Jerusalem by Aaron Davidman at Intersection for the Arts and Playmakers Rep, The Body of an American by Dan O’Brien at The Wilma Theatre and red, black and GREEN (a blues) by Marc Bamuthi Joseph (premiere at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, subsequent tour to venues across the country including the Brooklyn Academy of Music and The Kennedy Center). He is a company member at Woolly Mammoth Theater Company in Washington, DC, where credits include Lights Rise on Grace by Chad Bekim, The Convert by Danai Gurira and We Are Proud to Present… by Jackie Sibblies Drury. Other theater companies where he has worked includes New York Theater Workshop, Second Stage, The Cherry Lane, INTAR, South Coast Repertory, The Humana Festival and A Contemporary Theater. Garcés is the recipient of the Princess Grace Statue and the Alan Schneider Director Award. He serves on the Executive Board of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and is an alumnus of New Dramatists.

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RIC SALINAS (Fausto) was born in El Salvador and raised in San Francisco's Mission District. He graduated with two Bachelor of Arts degrees from San Francisco State University. He is really proud to be part of this highly successful play: Placas, along with a talented cast, touring nationally for the past couple years. He also works as Director for Teatro Zinzanni with shows in San Francisco and Seattle. Ricardo has performed over 5,000 times on stage with his partners Richard and Herbert under the moniker of Culture Clash for the past 30 years. Having travelled across the U.S. many times over, performing at prestigious venues to hole in the wall clubs, the Lincoln & Kennedy Centers, Off-Broadway, universities, colleges, high schools, elementary schools, repertory theatres and 99-seat theatres, comedy clubs, hotel ballrooms, convention halls, outdoor parks, fairs, he is grateful to be able to use art as tool for social change: Je suis Charlie!

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CARO ZELLER (Claudia) is a well-known actor in Los Angeles whose recent work includes a leading role in Adelina Anthony’s, Bruising for Besos, a feature film written for the Sundance Writer’s Lab with an expected release in 2016. She was also featured opposite the recent best actor Academy Award Winner JK Simmons in the Farmers Insurance Bear commercial. After graduating from Florida International University with a BFA in Acting, Caro joined a group of 10 actors in the inaugural University of Southern California MFA Acting class, headed by Andrew Robinson, Natsuko Ohama, David Bridel and Charlotte Cornwell. While at USC, Caro learned Film technique from Andre Belgrader and Gary Perez, and she continues to expand her repertoire working in film, commercials and theatre. Film Credits include Bruising for Besos, Over the Moon, Kiss Me, Crime School,The Wallet, and Dr. Reasons Web series. Theatre productions include American Night: the Ballad of Juan Jose, Placas: The Most Dangerous Tattoo, Blood Wedding, Romeo and Juliet, Midsummer Nights Dream, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Anatomy of Gazellas, Focus Group Play and Scar Tissue, among many more. Inspired by her native Puerto Rico and motivated by her artistic heroes to give transformational performances, Caro has made her way in LA and beyond as a unique voice in theatre. Caro was also part of the 2014 National Tour of Placas that was produced at the LATC, and Off-Broadway at Pregones/Travelling Puerto Rican Theatre in New York City.

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LUIS “XAGO” JUAREZ (Scooby/Largo) began his theater career with El Teatro Campesino and has been blessed to serve his community with Baktun12 from East Salinas, Los Del Pueblo’s Actors Lab and Teatro Visión in San José and headRush in Oakland, with whom he wrote, starred in and directed numerous productions. After receiving an M.F.A in Creative Inquiry from the California Institute of Integral Studies, Xago returned home to write and produce a series of documentary theatre productions about his neighborhood, including reAlisal: Your Neighbor’s Story and Stories de Acosta Plaza. He leads Community Teatro Labs in San Jose and East Salinas, and teaches Public Address at San Jose State University. With support from the California Endowment and Cal Humanities, he is currently developing Mi Abuelito Fue Bracero a documentary theater play inspired by his father’s experience serving the U.S. Ag industry that enlisted Mexican men from 1942 to 1964. He is dedicated to the power of teatro to amplify the stories and voices of marginalized communities to impact policy and systems change.

MARISSA MARSHALL (Technical Director/Lighting) is a "Jill of All Trades" theater professional who began her training at BRAVA! For Women in the Arts San Francisco Running Crew program. Since 1999, she has designed audioscapes, built scenic pieces, and lit stages across North America assisting countless artists in making their visions come to life. She also has had the honor of being the Technical Director for MCCLA in SF and Abrons Art Center in NYC. This is her third collaboration with Paul Flores and she is looking forward to many more.

JULIAN DEMETRIUS FERNANDEZ (Stage Manager/Sound) was born January 21st, 1989 in Hollywood, California. He has worked on several productions as a Stage Manager since 2010 and regularly works for the Latino Theater Company in Los Angeles, California. He is a proud 4th generation latino of Mexican and Cuban decent who would like to give thanks to his ancestors, and the struggles they faced in order for him to have the opportunities he has today. Julian would also like to thank his family and friends of today, for supporting him in his passion for the arts, especially theater, without them he would not have made it here. Stay strong and stay focused! 

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JEFFREY GLASER is tickled to be remounting PLACAS again.  He is currently an MFA candidate in USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.   Most recently, he was an assistant editor for MYRNA THE MONSTER which premiered at Sundance and will run on MTV.  For his next film, Mr. Glaser is slated to edit the feature documentary WHAT WOULD BEETHOVEN DO?, which focuses on making classical music more accessible.  As a theatre director Mr. Glaser’s favorite credits include volunteering with Rehabilitation Through the Arts at Sing Sing Correctional facility, where he directed Starting Over.  Mr. Glaser also served as the resident director for the occasionally relevant/ always sophomoric comedy troupe FUCT, which has performed all over the country including Second City, UCB, and Caroline’s Comedy Club.