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Las Cruces

By Gary Wien

originally published: 08/20/2016

Las CrucesSet in the New Mexico desert, not far from the casinos and the spaceport, an enigmatic story of buried secrets, improbable friendship, and unexpected redemption follows Sheridan, a Connecticut man who has fled his life on the East Coast under mysterious circumstances, and Soledad, the wisecracking, teenage card player he befriends. That’s the story behind Las Cruces by Vincent Delaney, which was the winner of the 2016 Premiere Stages Play Festival and receives a full production by Premiere Stages at Kean University in September.

The play was selected from over 400 submissions in the theatre’s annual competition for unproduced scripts. Las Cruces will be directed by Premiere’s founding producing director John J. Wooten, and feature actors Brian Sutherland, Charlotte Cohn, and Diomargy Nuñez.

Las Cruces provides a moving and fascinating exploration of the power of friendship and humor in the face of unspeakable tragedy,” said Wooten. “The secret behind Sheridan’s mysterious escape to the desert has shattered more than his spirit; it has exacerbated a growing debate that is quickly dividing America.”

Vincent Delaney is a recipient of the Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Heideman Award, McKnight and Bush fellowships, a Jerome Commission, the Reva Shiner Comedy Award, Core Membership at the Playwrights Center, and a residency at Seattle Rep. His plays have been produced throughout the United States, and in the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, and the Netherlands.  His work is published by Smith and Kraus, Samuel French, Heineman, Dramatics Magazine, Theatre Forum, and Playscripts.com.

New Jersey Stage spoke with Delaney about his latest work.



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Tell me a little about the play. Las Cruces is about an unlikely friendship between a stranger hiding out in the New Mexico desert, and a young poker player named Soledad. It’s also about powerful issues that none of us can avoid today.

Does the character’s escape to the desert have any religious overtones or symbolism? Sheridan’s flight into the desert is about personal survival--he’s running from something that he can’t face. But he can’t hide for long.

Have you ever been to Las Cruces, New Mexico? I spent quite a bit of time in the Southwest, and especially the New Mexico desert. There’s something magical and bleak and gorgeous about that country. When I started a play about a man running from himself, I couldn’t think of a better destination--you can feel so alone, and yet you’re completely surrounded at the same time.

How did you first get involved with playwriting? I started as an actor, gradually moved more toward writing. Grew up in the Pacific NW, and after moving around a lot, settled in Seattle. My life right now is a mix of writing, teaching, and raising our three kids.

You visited Premiere Stages a few months ago.  How involved have you been with the production?  I came out in March for the first workshop of the play, and have been here for a week this time. We’ve spent the week around the table, reading the play, discussing the lives of the characters, and finding some nice improvements and changes to the script.

What do you think of the cast and crew? This is a very smart and talented group, who are already taking ownership of their characters. My director, John Wooten, is gifted at breaking down the core moments in a scene, and finding the truth of what’s there. He brings out amazing energy from his actors.

The play was read along with the other finalists for Premiere’s Play Festival.  How important are staged readings to you? I’m one of those writers who actually love workshops and  readings. There’s no better way to improve your script, if you’re open to feedback. It’s also exciting to work with new artists--sometimes an actor will just click with a role, and you’ll find a whole new way into it.

Do you often revise your work after the reading? During the rehearsal process?  I’m revising incessantly--even this week, we found so many new moments to layer into the play. There’s a mix of humor and tension and danger in this show, and I want to get it absolutely right.

Finally, who are some contemporary playwrights that you admire? I adore writers who can address truly dark spaces with heart and economy and humor. Suzan-Lori Parks comes to mind, especially Topdog/Underdog. That’s such a lean, powerful piece of writing, with so much humor and heart. Also Doubt by John Patrick Shanley--using history to make something so devastatingly timely.

Las Cruces





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Center Players Presents "The Emperor's New Duds"
(FREEHOLD, NJ) --  Center Players Dessert Theater will present a family-friendly production of “The Emperor’s New Duds” at Center Playhouse, 35 South St, in downtown Freehold, NJ from December 7 – 16. A musical adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s the “Emperor’s New Clothes,” the play was written by Bernice Garfield-Szita, who co-directed the production with Enid Bush.
Centenary Stage’s Young Performers Workshop presents 2018 Winter Festival of Shows
(HACKETTSTOWN, NJ) -- Based on the Gospel According to St. Matthew with music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, Godspell is composed of various musical parables from The Gospel. Jesus Christ recruits a group of followers and teaches them various lessons through song and dance. Toward the end of the second act, the show begins to follow a more linear narrative as Jesus is betrayed by Judas and eventually crucified. Performances are Sunday, December 9 at 5:00pm; Saturday, December 15 at 8pm and Sunday, December 16 at 7:30pm.
The Shakespeare Theatre Presents "The Winter's Tale"
(MADISON, NJ) -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s concludes its 56th season with its sixth and final Main Stage production, The Winter's Tale. Last seen at The Shakespeare Theatre in 2008, Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directs this production of Shakespeare’s tragicomedic romance. Veteran company members Jacqueline Antaramian, Jon Barker, Erin Partin, John Keabler, Raphael Nash Thompson,Seamus Mulcahy, Patrick Toon, and Ames Adamson are among a cast of 20 actors. Performances run from December 5 to December 30. 
American Theater Group Announces Full Cast & Creative For "Tell Them I'm Still Young"
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Holmdel Theatre Company Presents 'ART'
(HOLMDEL, NJ) – The Holmdel Theatre Company (HTC) will present 6 performances of Yasmina Reza’s ‘ART’  from December 7th through December 16th. Translated from French by Christopher Hampton, the play tells the story of what happens when Serge buys an expensive painting, and the reactions of his two closest friends, Marc and Yvan, to his purchase. As what begins as a discussion about the quality of the painting that Serge has purchased quickly devolves into petty jabs and personal attacks, the three men border on destroying their friendships.


Broadway’s Mandy Gonzalez LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
Broadway is in the house at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts with a Fearless live concert performance by Broadway star, Mandy Gonzalez!
"The Spitfire Grill" and Caitlin Geisser Return To Their Roots
“I saw something in her that you rarely come across,” recalled Ted Wioncek III, Artistic Director at Eagle Theatre in Hammonton. “She’s more than wise beyond her years; I believe she’s going to be a game-changer and a trendsetter for this art form.”
Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s Friday, October 26, 2018, and the Broadway’s Next H!T Musical cast is just about ready to take the stage at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ.
The Last Apple Pie: "Apples In Winter" Opens At Centenary Stage
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See Andrea McArdle LIVE! in Annie at Deal Park’s Axelrod PAC!
Leapin’ Lizards! Annie’s finally made it to the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal Park, NJ, and it stars Broadway’s original Annie, Andrea McArdle, as Miss Hannigan!










Event calendar
Saturday, Nov 17, 2018


MUSIC

THE GAY BLADES @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

HERMAN'S HERMITS STARRING PETER NOONE & THE BUCKINGHAMS @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

Nelson Riveros Trio: “The Latin Side of Wes Montgomery” @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Hawaiian Music and Hula @ 1867 Sanctuary at Ewing, Ewing - 8:00pm

Pop 2000 Tour @ iPlay America, Freehold - 7:00pm

THE MACHINE PERFORMS PINK FLOYD @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 8:00pm

THE FAB FAUX A HARD DAY'S NIGHT AND REVOLVER IN THEIR ENTIRETIES @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm

Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm

Swamp Boogie Trio @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm







THEATRE

Annie @ Broad Street United Methodist Church, Burlington - 8:00pm

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Annie @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 8:00pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Billy Bishop Goes to War @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 2:00pm

Kiss Me Kate @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Phoenix Productions Presents: The Hunchback of Notre Dame @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Enchanted April @ The Summit Playhouse, Summit - 8:00pm

Heathers, The Musical High School Edition @ Pebble Players, Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

Junie B. Jones The Musical at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 11:00am

Into the Woods @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm

The Drowsy Chaperone @ Lauren K. Woods Theatre at Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 8:00pm


COMEDY

Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm


DANCE

BALLET FOLKLORICO DE MEXICO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


KIDS

ROALD DAHL’S WILLY WONKA JR. @ Ridgewood Ave School Theater, Glen Ridge - 1:00pm and 7:00pm


LECTURE

Mainebiz Health Care Forum @ Mainebiz Health Care Forum, Newyork - 8:00pm

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