Alvaro Saar Rios HEADSHOT

Alvaro Saar Rios

  • Associate Professor, Playwriting
  • Area Head, Theatre Practices


MFA, Writing for Stage & Screen, Northwestern University
BA, English-Creative Writing, University of Houston
AA, Communications, Houston Community College


Alvaro Saar Rios creates experiences for multi-generational audiences.  His plays have been performed in New York City, Mexico City, Hawaii, Chicago, Seattle, St. Louis, Milwaukee and all over Texas. He has received playwriting commissions from various organizations, including Kennedy Center, Chicago Children’s Theatre, First Stage, Houston Grand Opera, Honolulu Theatre for Youth, Alley Theatre, Purple Rose Theatre Company, Lexington Children’s Theatre, Houston Community College, and Zoological Society of Milwaukee.

His award-winning plays include Luchadora!On The Wings of a Mariposa and Carmela Full of Wishesa stage adaptation of Matt de la Peña’s children’s book.  Other plays include Piggsville, The Day the Music Came Back, and Unmuted, a virtual musical he co-created with composer Deborah Wicks La Puma.  Alvaro is currently writing a superhero play for the BIPOC Superhero Project, a new stage adaptation of Pam Muñoz Ryan’s iconic novel Esperanza Rising, and a novel based on his award-winning play Luchadora!

As Head of the BA Practices program, Mr. Rios mentors aspiring theatremakers who hope to contribute to and change theatre.  He recently created New Dramaworks, a series geared at introducing undergraduates of various disciplines to the process of new play development.

Photo: Joe Mazza - Brave Lux


  • AATE's Distinguished Play Award—CARMELA FULL OF WISHES (2023)
  • Chicago Dramatists Resident Playwright (2023-2017)
  • AATE's Distinguished Play Award—ON THE WINGS OF A MARIPOSA (2022)
  • Playwright-in-Residence, First Stage (2019)
  • AATE's Distinguished Play Award—LUCHADORA! (2016)
  • UWM's Student Success Award (2015)

Recent Work

Carmela Full of Wishes. Chicago Children's Theatre. Chicago, IL
The Mole Hill Stories. Children's Theatre of Madison. Madison, WI
Luchadora! Cara Mía Theatre Company. Dallas, TX
On The Wings of a Mariposa. First Stage. Milwaukee, WI
Like A Jet-Fueled Mariposa. Teatrx. Houston, TX