The New Mexico State University’s Theatre Arts Department has found an amazing silver lining around the gloomy cloud of COVID-19.
NMSU Theatre’s first production since the onset of the pandemic is a triumph in every way, and I highly encourage you to go online and watch it.
“Letters to the Future” is a collection of scenes filmed safely in the Mark and Stephanie Medoff Theatre of the ASNMSU Center for the Arts. With simple but valuable costumes, set pieces, lighting and sound, this show is about writing, directing and acting. It will make you think, it may make you cry, and it certainly will make you grateful that (almost) live theatre is still a part of our lives.
The show was written by Theatre Department Head Wil Kilroy and members of the cast, along with additional text from community members, and is delivered mostly as letters, with a couple of original and beautiful songs added to the mix.
In these vignettes, with titles like “Dear Black Friend,” “Hey White Friend, “Voice of a Tree,” “Dear Mom,” Dear Son,” “Dear Non-Christian Pal,” “Dear Christian Pal,” “Dear Mama y Papa” and others, you will hear messages from the hearts and minds of many characters, as performed by Imani Caldwell, Edward Goldstein, Dominique Gomez, Aidan Miller, Jet Montellano, Lucio Orduno III, Elijah Reyes, Alexander Shannon, Reagan Szulc and Peyton Womble.
Womble also wrote and performs the song that comes toward the middle of the show, collaborating on the music with Steven Rokowski. It was brilliant. The song at the very end– and talk about worth waiting for – was written by the Theatre Department’s visiting musical theatre artist, Lisa Hermanson, sung by Gomez.
Most of the characters are in isolation, some are appropriately social distanced, and all are presented with heart and passion by this marvelous cast, speaking in English and Spanish, in rap and in song.
Here is just a little of the dialogue:
From “Dear Black Friend:” “I don’t think any one group should be lifted up like that. I don’t see a White Lives Matter Group. I wish we could find a way to get along the way we did before this whole George Floyd thing.”
From “Hey White Friend:” “I agree with you that all lives matter. We’re not trying to take anything from you or anyone else. We just want to be treated equally. How about opening up that clenched fist and sharing?”
From “Dear Mama y Papa:” “I want you, Mama. Please. I’m scared. None of us know where you were taken. I thought you told me you were headed for a better life.” (signed, a 12-year-old boy in a cage)
From “Dear Non-Christian Pal:” “I know he (Trump) can be sort of a bully, but in this country, I think we need a bully that’s going to stand up for us.”
From “Dear Christian Pal:” “I’m pretty sure if you think about it, he does not represent true Christian values.”
From “Dear Humans:” “We are a complex, co-dependent system, and we need each other to survive. Open your eyes to this dire situation.” (signed, A Concerned Redwood)
“Our aim in this piece, our very first venture into filmed theatre during this time of COVID, is to represent different viewpoints currently expressed in our country, with the hope of promoting understanding and, as the final song states, a meeting in the middle,” said Kilroy, who directed the show, with Montellano as assistant director.
To watch “Letters to the Future,” visit https://theatre.nmsu.edu/letters-to-the-future/ and buy a ticket online ($12) or in person ($10) and download the show to watch whenever you want.