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ASTC will feature Pulitzer Prize winning play

Tackling a serious issue with humor and honesty, the Pulitzer Prize winning play "How I Learned to Drive" will be performed by New Mexico State University's American Southwest Theatre Company Oct. 26-31 at the Hershel Zohn Theatre.

"How I Learned to Drive" was written by Brown University professor of English and theatre Paula Vogel. The play features Lil' Bit, a woman who must come to grips with past sexual abuse as a teen-ager. Through the use of flashbacks, the audience is able to see Lil' Bit's progression from victim to survivor.

"These memories of a dysfunctional family, while serious, also are often very humorous and farcical," ASTC director and NMSU theatre arts professor Cynthia Dillon said. "It's this different take on a difficult issue that made it worthy of a Pulitzer."

Dillon said the play is highly theatrical with many of the themes and actions implied rather than outright stated. Besides the Pulitzer, "How I Learned to Drive" earned numerous awards including the Obie Award, Drama Desk and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award.

NMSU senior theater arts major Amber Hammonds stars as Lil' Bit and local professional actor Ed Kruis plays Uncle Peck. The small cast is rounded out by the Greek chorus: junior Mike McCabe, and sophomores Rachel Space and Diane Stern. Senior Steve White is costume designer. The sets and lights are designed by resident designer Jim Billings.

A dinner and theater package will be offered at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, at Lorenzo's Cafe, 741 North Alameda in Las Cruces. Dillon will talk about "How I Learned to Drive" during dinner and the play will follow at 8 p.m. at the Hershel Zohn Theatre. Tickets are $30 for the dinner and play and can be purchased from the ASTC Box Office or from members of the ASTC Board of Trustees.

The "How I Learned to Drive" subject matter is mature and not intended for children. The play will run Oct. 26-31 at the Hershel Zohn Theatre at NMSU. Curtain times are 7 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday. Ticket prices range from $5.50 to $10.75 each. Dillon will hold a special discussion on the play after the Sunday matinee.

Valet parking and curb-side drop off service will be available to theater patrons. Those interested in valet service should pull into McFie Circle south of the Hershel Zohn Theatre. After the play, a shuttle will return patrons to the O'Donnell Hall parking lot. Patrons also can drop off riders at McFie Circle and park at any available lot on campus. About 20 handicapped spaces will be available adjacent to the theater.

For tickets or more information, call the ASTC Ticket Office at (505) 646-4515.