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New Mexico State University Theater and ASTC announce 2003-2004 season

Hate crimes, African tales and American classics will highlight the 2003-2004 season of the New Mexico State University Theatre Arts Department and the American Southwest Theatre Company (ASTC).


the season will be "The Laramie Project" by Moises Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project. "The Laramie Project" explores the events surrounding the death of 21-year-old gay college student Matthew Shepard, who was brutally beaten and left to die on a fence outside Laramie, Wyo. The play, composed of actual interviews from residents of Laramie, looks at what happens to a town when something unexpected, unconscionable and unforgivable rips it apart. This production will coincide with the fifth anniversary of Shepard's death and will include special activities dealing with issues of hate crimes and acceptance.

The second show of the season is a world premiere play for young audiences, "Africa A to Z," by Ruth Cantrell, co-author of the 2003 season's "Riders." "Africa A to Z" takes the audience on a journey to Africa through stories from Asanti to Zulu and Antelopes to Zebras. A wise sage with his drum by his side draws the audience to his fireside as he tells African tales guaranteed to awe and delight children of all ages. This production also will tour area schools as part of New Mexico State's commitment to theater for young audiences.

The holiday season will feature the highly popular "A Christmas Carol" with lyrics by theater faculty member Tom Smith and music by Roger Butterley. "A Christmas Carol" tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge's greed and his unwillingness to keep Christmas in his heart. With the help of the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future and the Cratchit family, Scrooge begins a journey of discovery and redemption.

"Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck opens the second half of the season. An American classic brought to life, "Of Mice and Men" follows George and Lennie, two drifters with delusions of living off the fat of the land. They arrive at a ranch where they plan to earn enough money to buy their own place, but Lennie, with "the strength of a gorilla and the mind of an untutored child," can't seem to keep out of trouble. The two men realize that sometimes the best laid plans "of mice and men" can go terribly and tragically awry.

Audience members will be transported to swinging 1960s England for the naughty and frisky farce "What the Butler Saw" by Joe Orton. Dr. Prentice, a sex-obsessed psychiatrist, is attempting to seduce a hospital secretary, but is frustrated by the arrival of his nymphomaniac wife, an over-enthusiastic hospital inspector, a blackmailing bellboy and a dim-witted policeman. His clinic quickly becomes a bedlam of mistaken identity, undressing, cross-dressing, disappearances, disguises, seductions, screwball antics, dropped trousers and heightened libidos.

Concluding the 2003-2004 season will be "Arcadia," a fascinating and fantastical play by the author of "Shakespeare in Love," Tom Stoppard. "Arcadia" presents two intriguing groups of characters -- a collection of 20th century scholars researching the past and an early 19th century household wondering about the future -- on stage in the same room, but existing in their own distinct periods. Stoppard's mesmerizing play, which sold out on Broadway and in London, explores the nature of truth and time, the difference between classical mathematical and physical theories and romantic longings, and the disruptive influence of love on our orbits in life.

Season tickets go on sale April 24 and are available through Oct. 5. They range in price from $36 to $55. A "pick-your-own" book of eight tickets is available for $80. "Africa A to Z" is not included in the season ticket package. Tickets for this event are $4 and $5.

Season sponsorships are available for businesses wishing to contribute to New Mexico State Theatre Arts and ASTC. Season sponsors receive advertising in all theater programs. For more information contact Mike Wise, artistic director, at (505) 646-5418.

For tickets or more information call the ASTC box office at (505) 646-4515.