LA Mission Theatre to begin work on ambitious Aztec Empire project

The Fall will explore the relationships between Cortes and Montezuma and to our world today.

On October 26, LA Mission Theatre will begin the research and development phase of The Fall of Montezuma and the City of Dreams at the Hand of the Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortés (in short, Montezuma/Cortés). This original theatrical production will both tell the incredibly dramatic story of the cataclysmic overthrow of the Aztec Empire and explore the theme of “whose home is this.” In light of the civil rights protests in response to police brutality and the challenges to our democracy in the midst of a contentious election season, the very threads of the United States appear to be unraveling every day. Once again the roots of our country are coming into stark focus, reopening the wounds of slavery, colonization, and upheaval. As we approach the most critical election in the history of our country, we are faced with the question not only of who will lead us into the future, but what does it mean when an empire teeters on the precipice. Coincidentally, 2021 is the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire, which makes for a ripe opportunity to evaluate our history, as well as the history of the Latinx and indigenous people.

What is devised theatre?

This project will be developed using a method of creation called “devised theatre.” While theatrical production traditionally involves bringing a previously written play to life on stage, devised theatre involves an extended collective creative process. Instead of starting with a play, the company starts with an idea or a theme, then gathers resources and creates a script together throughout a research and development process. These resource materials can be passages from books, historical accounts, interview or discussion transcripts, music, dances, or anything really. Devised theatre allows for much more freedom, creativity, and democratic authorship. 


LA Mission Theatre associate professor Robert Cucuzza has been participating in the creation of devised theatre with students and professionals in New York and Los Angeles since 1993. Since 1997, he has been a member of the internationally-renowned theatre company Elevator Repair Service, creating and performing in multiple shows that have become the model for how devised work is created.

Why now?
How do I participate?

The entire theatre industry is paused for an indeterminate length of time. However, new works can still be developed as we await its return. As you will see below, The pandemic pause gives us the opportunity to commit to a long research and development process that culminates in a full production in August 2021. 

The work will be conducted through a class called "Directed Study-Theatre Arts," which will be run by Associate Professor of Theatre Arts, Robert Cucuzza. For theatre majors, this course can potentially fulfill a Rehearsals and Performances requirement. This is a 2-unit course that will run October 26-December 18. We are seeking performers, designers, and production team members to participate. Interviews will be held the week of October 19. If accepted into the company, you will be given a permission code by the instructor. You will be expected to commit approximately three hours a week, either on your own or in Zoom sessions. Meeting times will be decided upon once the company is formed. In order to be considered for the company, please fill out the Google form at this link and you will be contacted.








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