Faces of Fordham: Theatre Students and the Making of ‘La Cocina’

Students from the theatre department at Fordham work tirelessly to bring the play to life

Alexa Smith, FCLC ‘25 (front), who plays Annie, stirs a bowl.


Every year, the Fordham theatre department at the Lincoln Center campus showcases four plays during the mainstage season. “La Cocina,” written by Professor and Interim Head of Playwriting Tony Meneses and directed by Alex Shaw, is the final play of the season. 

“La Cocina” (“The Kitchen” in English) is inspired by the 1957 play “The Kitchen” by Arnold Wesker. According to Fordham Theatre’s website, the play “looks at the back of house of a modern day NYC restaurant kitchen as cooks and waitstaff juggle orders, dishes, and their own dreams of a better life.” “La Cocina” was originally commissioned by the Juilliard School during the 2018-2019 school year and was performed by their first-year actors, “Group 51.”

Shaw explained that “La Cocina” is “about finding and maintaining community, and how we take care of each other, about the desire for revolution, and everyone’s right to dignity and respect.”

The play features an ensemble cast of students, including Aaron Dorelien, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’24, as Nick; Abigail Lo, FCLC ’23, as Winnie; Aiden Castillo, FCLC ’26, as Wesley; Alexa Smith, FCLC ’25, as Annie; A’ryee McGirt, FCLC ’23, as Monique; Beth Caudill, FCLC ’23, as Molly; Dylan Foster, FCLC ’24, as Frances; Elian Rivera, FCLC ’25, as Krystian; Ethan Peña Mock, FCLC ’23, as Marcel; Harry Cooper, FCLC ’23, as Caleb; Isabella Acuña, FCLC ’25, as Sylvia; Jeremiah Onyango, FCLC ’25, as Rotimi; Josiah Rivera, FCLC ’23, as Pablo; Leah Getz, FCLC ’23, as Helen; Lila Smith, FCLC ’24, as Gwen; Lizbeth Luciano, FCLC ’26, as Daphne; Nathan Brenn, FCLC ’23, as Paul; Nicholas Swensen, FCLC ’23, as Man; and Raekwon Fuller, FCLC ’23, as Ray.

From 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. every night during their weekly rehearsals, theater students dedicate themselves to perfecting their lines and further understanding their characters, working hard alongside Meneses and Shaw to bring the play to life. 

“Fordham Theatre instills a love and appreciation for all facets of theater in every artist that passes through its curriculum,” Getz said. “I am so thankful for my time here and the lessons I’ve learned, appreciation I’ve gained, and the connections I have made.”

The play debuts at the Pope Auditorium in the Leon Lowenstein Center on April 13 at 8 p.m. There are also showings on April 14, 19, 20 and 21 starting at 8 p.m. On April 22, there are two performances, one at 2 p.m. and another at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $15 for general admission; $10 for faculty, staff and alumni; and $5 for students. 

To purchase tickets, click here.