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Centennial plays reflect Arizona's past, imagine future

October 14, 2011

Six short plays selected from a nationwide search for playwrights’ impressions of Arizona as the state marks its 100th year of statehood have their encore performance Oct. 21-29 at the Herberger Institute's MainStage.

The plays range from a young African-American woman’s memory of working in fields with Mexican migrant workers to a comic view of the gunfight at OK Corral.

Each play offers a unique take on Arizona’s Centennial, according to Professor Guillermo Reyes, who is chairman of the Arizona Centennial New Works Series at ASU School of Theatre and Film in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

The plays were selected and piloted at the Phoenix Theatre New Works Festival last summer, and will have their encore at MainStage.

Dan Schay, Phoenix Theatre’s managing director, will reprise his role as director. The production is part of the Arizona Centennial Project New Works Series.

The show contains mature language and themes and may not be appropriate for younger audiences. Here is a brief description of the plays that could surprise, offend and/or delight audiences:

Beverly Smith-Dawson’s One Summer is a gentle memory about growing up in Arizona as a young African-American woman goes off to work in the fields alongside Mexican migrant workers.

Daniel Hahn’s Naked Arizona lampoons the tough task of selling Arizona’s image to the rest of the world in light of recent political events that may have soiled the state’s reputation in some circles.

Leigh Kennicot’s The Last Train at La Posada is a surreal play of a woman haunted by the ghost of a Native American while waiting for a train at La Posada, a station abandoned long ago.

Robert Brophy in Catfight at the OK Corral, Summer 1881 offers a comic view of the famous gunfight.

Mario Mendoza’s A Mad Dog in the Fog is a surreal impression of a nurse who must decide whether to provide organ transplants to a group of dying owls in an Arizona in which health care has been decimated.

Laura Neubauer places a romantic comedy, Queen Bee, in the sightlines of the Hoover Dam and connects the environment of the desert to a couple’s romantic troubles.

James Garcia in American Dream: The Life and Times of Raul H. Castro, provides a portrait of the state’s first and only Mexican-American governor.