Fire Never Dies: The Tina Modotti Project

A new play by Carmen Aguirre, produced by Electric Company Theatre

With partnership support from the Vancouver Latin American Cultural Centre
World Premiere in 2025/26. Stay tuned for more details soon! 

“What exactly is the purpose of art in the face of fascism? Can art serve the poor, and if so, how?”  Carmen Aguirre 

In Fire Never Dies: The Tina Modotti Project, best-selling author and Electric Company Core Artist, Carmen Aguirre tackles the dialectic between art and revolution by excavating Tina Modotti’s life and art, and, in so doing, reflecting on our own lives through hers.

This Italian photographer and her revolutionary art thrived in Mexico City in the 1920s.  She was Frida Kahlo’s lover and posed for Diego Rivera’s murals. After seven years of photography, she abandoned her art to join the anti-fascist cause in Europe, running the Red Aid Hospital in Madrid during the Spanish Civil War.

Raised in a working-class family, Tina’s legacy is one of dedication to justice and equality and the four hundred photographs she left behind. She died of a heart attack at the age of forty-five in the back of a taxi cab in Mexico City. Carmen is compelled by Tina’s struggle to reconcile her artistic practice and intimate life with her political commitment.

The play takes place during Tina’s heart attack and consists of twenty-five episodes performed by a seven-actor ensemble. Each episode differs stylistically: film noir when Tina is in 1930s Berlin spying on the Nazis for the Soviets, naturalism when she is at a 1920s party in Mexico City, catwalking when characters are introduced on a runway, etc. The thematic thread is: what is the personal cost of militancy?

To read about the creative team, click here.

Creative Process

Development began in February 2021 with an online work-in-progress showing as part of our Unmasking the Future event. In December 2022, the cast and design team gathered for a two-week workshop at Progress Lab 1422.

In June 2023, the group gathered at Russian Hall, workshopping the play on its feet, integrating projections of Modotti’s photographs, Kahlo’s paintings, and Rivera’s murals, and in collaboration with choreographer, Chambers, explored each episode’s movement demands.

In October 2023, we offered a community reading, hosted by our partners the Vancouver Latin American Cultural Centre, at our home studio Left of Main in Historic Chinatown. A vibrant discussion and Q&A moderated by Jorge Amigo followed.

In January 2024, with residency support from the Chutzpah Festival! and hosted by our partners the Vancouver Latin American Cultural Centre, the work enjoyed a two-week production design workshop at the Norman & Annette Rosthein Theatre, culminating in a staged reading, followed by a moderated Q&A with Deborah Vogt and Alex Waterhouse-Hayward on February 2, 2024.

In May 2024, the script was developed further during a workshop at Left of Main.

Stay tuned for the next phases of development coming in 24/25!

In our current global conjuncture, it is urgent to tell the story of a working-class woman artist and revolutionary because it sheds light on what is possible. We hope you will join us on this journey.



cover photo © Tina Moddotti

in process photos © David Cooper 

We gratefully acknowledge the support of Metro Vancouver’s Regional Cultural Project Grants program and the Deux Mille and Hawthorne Foundations.