Cover photo taken from "Mexican Masks,"
University of Texas Press
Cover photo design: Atleier Lebas, Los Angeles

The Promise

José Rivera
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A play about a father-daughter relationship and a very beautiful culture slowly being overcome by an alien culture.

Production Info

Cast: 7 total (3 female, 4 male)
Full Length Drama (about 90 minutes)
Single Set
Contemporary Costumes
Category: Tag:

Press Quotes

“An evening of considerable heat and no little roughshod beauty. The work, poetic in concept and symbolism, is set in the back yard of a Puerto Rican enclave in Patchogue, L I, but also in the recent mystic past of blood rivalries and macho Montague/Capulet feuds …” —Jerry Tallmer, New York Post

“José Rivera’s provocative, intriguing THE PROMISE … But what’s most impressive about THE PROMISE is its brazen insistence that theater can dare to be great in the old-fashioned meaning of the word. This play makes no apologies for the theater, never tries to imitate film or television conventions. It restores the stage to its transformative, religious, spiritual origins. It believes in the theater as the one, true sanctuary for our communal dreams, our social nightmares, our superstitious secrets. It keeps theater’s promise to raise forbidden issues and explore taboo topics … THE PROMISE makes a vow in the first scene — to offer an exotic, lush weave of the surreal and the real — which it never betrays.” —Richard Stayton, Los Angeles Herald Examiner

“José Rivera is out of the kitchen sink and into magical realism — that’s the term the playwright uses to describe THE PROMISE, a modern-day tale of love, death — and love beyond it … THE PROMISE is about maturation, growth, about leaving superstition behind. It’s also very concerned with the cultural genocide that’s happening in Puerto Rico … They learn English in school, and the indigenous folklore is not taught …” —Janice Arkatov, Los Angeles Times

About the Author


  • José Rivera

    José Rivera is an award-winning screenwriter and playwright. Mr. Rivera has won two Obie Awards for playwriting for MARISOL and REFERENCES TO SALVADOR DALI MAKE ME HOT, both produced at The Public Theater in New York. His plays THE PROMISE, EACH DAY DIES WITH SLEEP, CLOUD TECTONICS, THE STREET OF THE SUN, SUEÑO, SONNETS FOR AN OLD CENTURY, SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS, BRAINPEOPLE, GIANTS HAVE US IN THEIR BOOK and THE HOUSE OF RAMON IGLESIA have been produced in theaters across the country and around the world. Plays-in-progress include THE LAST BOOK OF HOMER, HUMAN EMOTIONAL PROCESS, THE HOURS ARE FEMININE, a new translation of KISS OF THE SPIDERWOMAN and SCREAM FOR THE LOST ROMANTICS. ADORATION OF THE OLD WOMAN made its New York debut at INTAR Theatre in March 2014. Celestina, based on his play CLOUD TECTONICS, will mark his debut as a feature film director. Mr. Rivera has received awards from the Fulbright Arts Fellowship, the Whiting Foundation, the Kennedy Center, National Endowment for the Arts, the National Arts Club, New York Foundation for the Arts, the McKnight Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. Mr. Rivera's screenplay for The Motorcycle Diaries was nominated for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar in 2005 making him the first Puerto Rican writer to be nominated for an Academy Award. Also nominated for a BAFTA and a Writers Guild Award, The Motorcycle Diaries won top writing awards in Spain and Argentina. His screenplay based on Jack Kerouac's On the Road premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and was distributed nationally in the winter of 2013. His film Trade was the first film to premiere at the United Nations. He has story credit on the film The 33 and shares credit on Letters to Juliet. Other screenplays include The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Scott Rudin, producer); The State Boys Rebellion; Compositions in Black and White; Three Apples Fell From Heaven (Shekhar Kapur, director); Face Value; Riders on the Storm; American Rust; The Crown (Rodrigo Garcia, director); Vincent (Ben Foster, director); Patriotic Treason (Giancarlo Esposito, director); White Fang (Lance Acord, director); Deity; an untitled film based on the Korean film Failan (Andres Moore, director); and Even Silence Has an End. Television credits include an untitled HBO pilot, co-written and produced by Tom Hanks; The House of Ramon Iglesia; A.K.A. Pablo (Norman Lear, producer); The Eddie Matos Story; Eerie, Indiana (co-creator and producer); Goosebumps; Mayhem (Bob Cooper, producer); The Conquest (Ron Howard, producer); and Latino Roots, an untitled 10-hour limited series for HBO. Mr. Rivera made his film-acting debut playing himself in Margarita with a Straw. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Sundance Institute and has been a creative advisor for Screenwriting Labs in Utah, Jordan and India. A member of the LAByrinth Theatre Company and Ensemble Studio Theatre, he leads a weekly writing workshop in New York City, where he lives. In the works is his first novel, Love Makes the City Crumble.

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 8/1/1989
Pages 82
ISBN 9780881456783

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:

Originally produced by The Los Angeles Theater Center

The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
The Promise is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC


Upcoming and Recent Productions


11/17/2023 – 12/2/2023
Ucsd Theatre And Dance
La Jolla, CA

4/25/2020 – 4/29/2020
The Old Globe
San Diego, CA

4/7/2017 – 4/23/2017
Carson, CA,