Theatre Stages That Day in Tucson

Students performing.
Kate Kirkpatrick

Stage manager and student Leyla Perales Rizo is musing about the upcoming TMCC Theatre performances of That Day in Tucson and how its basis in truth will affect audiences.

That Day in Tucson is about a real event; because of this, I truly believe everyone will leave realizing how deep everything in it truly is. The audience will see how much of an impact theatre can really have; theatre sheds light on different aspects of what it means to be human," she said.

TMCC Theatre will present eight performances of That Day in Tucson, by Guillermo Reyes, based on the real-life event in January 2011, when a shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona created international headlines as Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords became one of the victims. The play opens on Thursday, April 27.

“I believe that when people watch plays, they are sometimes in it for the fact that it is normally fiction and whatever happens in it isn’t real,” Rizo points out.

Reyes’ play focuses on a young intern from Tucson, Daniel Hernandez Jr., who rushes to Giffords' rescue and is credited with helping save her life. The media creates a circus around him, transforms him into a reluctant hero, and opens up his private life to public scrutiny, especially when he wasn’t ready to discuss his involvement in the LGBTQ community.

This is the real story of an unexpected hero who is thrown unintentionally into the limelight, and, in flashbacks, the play depicts what led to that crucial day in Tucson in which everything changed for Daniel and the national political landscape surrounding the gun debate and gun violence. 

The play features elements of growing up in a bicultural, bilingual Latino family in the southwest and Daniel’s discovery of his commitment to public life. There’s also humor and compassion as the play depicts Daniel’s real-life friendship with Gabby Giffords, who survives this tragedy.

Theatre Offers Students Opportunity for Teamwork

"Working on this play has been a great opportunity to work among incredible people,” shared Rizo. “You get to learn new things from them and they can change the way you think of things and how to work with different types of people. It has also been very interesting to see how everything has been turning out, at first the actors are all reading from their scripts but then time morphs it into where we are now at the point where it starts becoming what the director envisioned.”

Student actor Justin Correll is eagerly anticipating opening night. "Collaborating with others to bring this true and touching story to life has been a creative privilege. This play reminds us of community, helping one another, and coming together in times of calamity," he said.

"Being in this play has been an honor,” added student actor Johan Espinosa Vasquez. “Yet, I'm simply a vessel, helping this heartfelt story come to life. Come and experience a glimpse of what transpired on that tragic day in January 2011."

Performances will be on April 27, 28, 29, May 4, 5, and 6 at 7:30 p.m., and April 29 and May 6 at 2 p.m. at the TMCC Dandini Campus, 7000 Dandini Blvd., Red Mountain Building, room 240.

Tickets can be purchased at ShowTix4U, and are free for TMCC students and high school students. General admission is $15, and TMCC employees and seniors are $12.

For more information, please contact TMCC Theatre at 775-674-7610.