Student Director on Cloud Nine with ‘Cloud Tectonics’



Lili Gutierrez, FCLC ’23, and Pedro González, FCLC ’22, rehearse the opening scene of the play as Celestina del Sol and Aníbal de la Luna.


Sofia Ubilla, Fordham College at Lincoln Center ’21, hopes her audience will “learn something from seeing a story that is seldom told” after seeing her show on Feb. 10. 

Ubilla, who is on the directing track within the Fordham Theatre Program, will direct a production of José Rivera’s “Cloud Tectonics,” a 1995 dreamlike play set in Los Angeles, as a part of this semester’s studio show season. 

The play tells the story of two tragic lovers brought together by circumstance when a man, Aníbal de la Luna, gives shelter to a pregnant hitchhiker, Celestina del Sol, who is searching for the father of her child. 

Ubilla said what drew her to the play was how Latinx the story is without specifically being about Latinx people. She was deeply affected by the “beauty of the writing and the story it was telling.”

“It was exactly the kind of art I wanted to be exploring and making, and I felt that it was a story that needed to be told,” Ubilla said. 

Rivera is a playwright who has won two Obie Awards and was the first Puerto Rican to receive an Academy Award nomination in screenwriting for the Che Guevara biopic “The Motorcycle Diaries” in 2005.

To prepare for the directing process, Ubilla said she started by “reading the play a million times to make sure I understood every last detail in it. The writing is so poetic and there are so many symbols in everything the characters said that it was extremely important for me to know the play backwards and forwards.” 

After doing research on Los Angeles in the 1990s and finding images that matched her vision of the play, Ubilla “brought all of that into the room” with the student designers and actors in the play, and they “let the story grow and evolve” together. 

Of the student designers and actors that she worked with, she gratefully explained “Everyone’s openness to discovering the world of the play created a wonderful environment for exploration in the room.”

When asked about her experience managing an entirely student-produced play, she said that it was an incredible learning experience, both wonderful and challenging. She said that in her dual role as director and producer, it was all about “time management and balancing between the two hats you have on,” as she was also responsible for tickets, posters and programs for the show. 

When audiences enter the theater on Feb. 10, what Ubilla most wants them to carry away with them is “a beautiful Latines story that can hopefully demonstrate the power of love.” 

“Cloud Tectonics” will run from Feb. 10-12 in the Veronica Lally Kehoe Studio Theatre.