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ASTC's production of "Tongues" opens March 16

The American Southwest Theatre Company at New Mexico State University will present the dark, comic play "Tongues" March 16-21.

Written by NMSU associate English professor Robert Boswell, "Tongues" won the 1994 John Gassner Award for Playwriting from the New England Theatre Conference. The play is set in a private mental institution and follows Todd Moffit, a gifted but deeply troubled young man, through one of his recurring mental breakdowns. When a clerical worker at the institution forges an entrance into this world, Moffit finds himself forced to face the past and engage the present.

NMSU senior Mike Kiley plays Moffit and freshman Rachel Space plays Dee, the worker at the clinic. Recent NMSU graduate Carrie Fountain plays Moffit's mother.

Boswell, who has a graduate degree in counseling and worked as a counselor before becoming a writer, said a former client of his gave him the inspiration to write the play. He hopes the audience will learn what it is like to have an altered perspective on reality as they watch Kiley's character unfold.

"The correlation between brilliance and mental instability is really the jumping off point of the play," Boswell said.

"Tongues" is directed by Claudia Billings, NMSU assistant professor of theater arts. Billings said she found the complexity of the play a welcome challenge, and that she particularly enjoyed the collaboration that took place between the playwright, the actors, the designers and herself during the rehearsal process.

"Tongues" is intended for mature audiences. It will run at the Hershel Zohn Theatre at NMSU March 16-21. Curtain times are at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday. For ticket information, call the ASTC Box Office at (505) 646-4515 or 1-800-646-ASTC.