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Dramatic showcase: CNM theater department premieres 14 short plays

Quin and Sala, played by Isaac Galarneau and Anastacia MacArthur, fight over a script that spells doom for both character and actor in Gus Tafoya’s “Something Fell From the Catwalk,” part of CNM’s “Not a Robot” festival of new student-written works at the Coal Avenue Theatre. (Courtesy of Brad Moore)

The students in the theater department at Central New Mexico Community College are getting a great opportunity this semester for the department’s annual spring performance.

The department is putting on “Not a Robot (Humans Wrote This)” for two weekends beginning this weekend.

The event will premiere 14 short plays that were written by CNM students who took the class “Intro to Playwriting” in the fall semester.

“Susan Erickson had this idea of letting her playwriting class put together an event,” says Lora Uebelhart, faculty producer and CNM instructor. “By midsemester, she knew that this is what she wanted to do for her spring production.”

Uebelhart says the shortest play is two minutes and the longest is 12 minutes.

There are 11 actors in total,” she says.” Six men and five women, and they play about 57 characters throughout the night. There are a few that are going to be acting in their own play. It’s an opportunity to gain experience for the students.”

Uebelhart is using her first time producing at CNM as a learning opportunity as well.

“Because there are so many pieces, it’s been a lot more demanding, in a good way,” she says. “Every single piece has different needs. From costuming to lighting to sound, we’ve created it. We’re entering tech week and will smooth out any of the problems that we have.”

CNM’s theater program focuses on creating theatrical productions, as well as training students to use theatrical skills such as design, research, performance and collaboration. The program introduces students to the basics of theater, acting and production.

“Producing brand-new plays is challenging and exhilarating,” says Erickson, faculty member and director. “We, the cast and crew, have no previous productions, reviews, articles, or information to research or learn from when mounting these new works. We have to be artistically awake every second. Bringing a brand-new play to life is a collaboration of many, and our writers are putting their trust in us to produce the plays they wrote. We take that seriously.”

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