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New Mexico State theater department to present world premiere of "Africa A to Z"

The New Mexico State University Department of the Theatre Arts and American Southwest Theatre Company (ASTC) will present the world premiere of "Africa A to Z" Oct. 24-25 at the Hershel Zohn Theatre on the NMSU campus.


A to Z," written by Ruth Cantrell, head of the NMSU theater department, and Monika Mojica, a theater major, is a collaboration of African folktales that teach lessons about issues of sharing, getting along and problem solving. Although the tales originate from several regions in Africa, they flow together through original percussion composed and performed by NMSU percussion instructor Fred Bugbee.

"Working with Fred has been a delight," Cantrell said. "It's so exciting to work with someone who can communicate a story through sound."

Although the percussion is led by Bugbee, it is performed by all cast members. Cast members include Mojica, Adrienne Cox, Laura Drangmeister, Sunny Sampson and Jesus Villaneuva.

"It was extremely powerful to see what I had in my head come to life on stage," Mojica said. "I know audiences will fall in love with the mystical beauty of the African savannah."

The savannah was created by resident designer Jim Billings. Lighting is by NMSU student Sal Ponce. The mask and costume designs are by NMSU theater major Crystal Herman and properties by technical director David Hereford.

"Africa A to Z" is the 19th annual production of the Theatre for Young Audiences program as part of the NMSU theater department's commitment to children's theater. In addition to the public performances, "Africa A to Z" will be performed for local school children and will tour Artesia and Gasden schools in January. The tour is sponsored by the McCune Charitable Foundation and John and Laura Conniff.

Tickets for "Africa A to Z" are $4 for students and $5 for others. Public performances will be at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24, and 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25. For more information call the ASTC box office at (505) 646-4515.