For the fourth year in a row, students from UNM's Robert Hartung Dramatic Writing Program will torch Albuquerque theaters across the city with the heat of their fiery words. Words Afire gives these young writers, along with other UNM theater students, a golden chance to take part in every aspect of a major theater festival.
"We're a little overwhelmed by how much we're doing," says UNM professor Jim Linnell, one of the organizers of the festival, "and we're puffed up with pride too. Very few writing programs in the country put on a festival like this, with such a wide array of quality student writings, giving students the opportunity to take part in such a large-scale theater event."
More full-length plays than ever will be staged this year. Linnell and Professor Digby Wolfe, the head of the program, are particularly happy about the three plays being staged for young audiences in UNM's Rodey Theatre: Harry the Magnificent by Dusty McGowan (Nov. 6-8), Miserable Miranda Milvenschlager by Casy Mraz (Nov. 13-15) and Mimi and the Ghosts by Jason Witter (Nov. 20-22). These family-oriented plays mark the first time the festival has made use of the Rodey, a larger venue than the other theaters incorporated in the festival.
The three plays for young folks, though, are just the tip of this theatrical iceberg.
"There's also a really unusual play by David Velarde Jr.," says Linnell, "which is based on a true story about a Native American convicted of murder with a false confession." The case, he says, has gotten an enormous amount of media attention. He Went Away and Came Back/Dak´we Nasya will be performed from Nov. 19-22 at UNM's Theatre X. Following the Saturday, Nov. 21, and Sunday, Nov. 22, performances, a panel discussion will be presented to examine some of the issues surrounding the case.
Also of note is ex-Alibi staffer David Landry's full-length play, Amu, which will be performed Nov. 12-15 at Theatre X. Landry's play has been selected to represent UNM at the American College Theatre Festival at the University of Texas in El Paso later this month.
Rounding out the festival is a bunch of short plays and one-acts to be performed at the Tricklock Performance Space and Theatre X.
All in all, there are plenty of stellar reasons why you should come out and support these young writers, actors and miscellaneous theater folk during the month of November. "All collected under one festival," says Linnell, "is an array of new takes on the world from writers who are fresh out of the box, who are, as we say in Maine, full of piss and vinegar. Theater-goers can expect some rides they might not get otherwise."