In 1960, Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo ordered the assassination of three adult sisters for their opposition to his regime. The horrific act sparked a worldwide movement to eliminate violence against women and made the sisters a global symbol of social justice.

Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa Mirabal were killed on Nov. 25, 1960. The fourth sister, Dede, was not involved and continued their legacy.

Sacramento State’s production of Caridad Svich’s In the Time of the Butterflies tells the story of the Mirabal sisters through the lens of magical realism and the use of new media art. It is based on the novel by Julia Alvarez. Directed by Professor Roberto Pomo, the play is part of Sac State’s Arts Experience and will be presented in Playwrights’ Theatre at 8 p.m. Oct. 18-21, 27 and 28; 6:30 p.m. Oct. 25-26; and 2 p.m. Oct. 22 and 29.

Magical realism pushes the story past a naturalistic interpretation. “The past and the present fade into one as we look into the future of these characters,” Pomo says.

To help emphasize that atmosphere of dreams, memories and foreboding, Pomo turned to New Media Art Professor Rachel Clarke, who collaborated with five students in the Studio Art major to create animations employing both magic realism and surrealist elements.

The animations set the context of the story, and illuminate the minds of the characters. The animated videos use a combination of computer-generated (CG) and hand-drawn techniques. The animations are projection-mapped onto three walls of the theater, immersing the audience in the experience.

“The playwright provides vivid descriptions for each scene, which we interpreted to formulate ideas for the overall look of the imagery, then the look of each individual scene,” Clarke says.

“Without the animation and the digital imagery created by Professor Clarke, we wouldn’t be able to do this play,” Pomo says. “It enhances all of the elements of magical realism.”

Tickets for the 6:30 p.m. performances are $15 general admission, $12 students and seniors, and $10 for children. All other performances are $18 general, $15 students and seniors, and $12 children. Tickets are available at the Sacramento State Ticket Office, or (916) 278-4323.

For more information on events or programs of the Theatre and Dance Department, visit or call (916) 278-6368. For media assistance, call University Communications at (916) 278-6156. - Craig Koscho