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UNM students Kristen Padilla and Lauren Taylor rehearse for UNM’s fall production of “Smokebox" on Wednesday, Sept. 28.

UNM Theatre department previews fall shows

With their fall 2022 season, the University of New Mexico Department of Theatre & Dance has prepared a lineup of several plays for local audiences to enjoy, including “Frankenstein,” “The Season of La Llorona” and the bi-annual departmental Linnell Festival of New Plays.

An overarching theme of the two non-Linnell Festival plays is the idea of monsters, and how we define them culturally, according to Manuel Lopez Ainza, an actor in "The Season of La Llorona."

“What is the definition of monsters? Frankenstein, it's a literal monster. But when you watch the show, what you think of monster might switch,” Ainza said. “So is humanity (a) monster? Is conquest a monster? I think it makes you kind of rethink who really is the monster in the story.”

The actors for all three shows were selected through an audition process including blind auditions and callbacks, according to Jayla Franklin-Sullivan, an actress in this year's production of “Smokebox,” the main production of the Linnell Festival, written by third-year Dramatic Writing Program Masters of Fine Arts candidate Julia Storch.

“With the auditions for this year, they gave us a cast list for each play. So you could (find) your preferred part or what you're going after. But it's basically a blind audition,” Franklin-Sullivan said. “You audition, and then they'll have you do callbacks for whatever they want you in.”

“Smokebox” will show on Oct. 6th and 7th at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 8 at 2 p.m. in the X Theatre. The show follows a queer woman with Alzheimer’s journey through life, flashing back and forth between herself at 16, 40, 50 and 85 years old. In addition to this play, the Linnell Festival will also feature several table reads of various plays written by first and second-year MFA students.

While “Smokebox” will feature at the Linnell Festival, “Frankenstein” will show weekends Nov. 4-13, with “The Season of La Llorona” showing weekends Nov. 11-20. Ticket prices are $8 for students.

“La Llorona is a very popular mythical figure, but (The Season of La Llorona) is a retelling of that. And we actually go back in time, and talk about the colonization of the Aztecs and how La Llorona fits in there,” Ainza said. “So, it's a reimagining of who she was, or who she is, and what it means to be a Llorona. And I'm really excited about participating in this one because the cast,  it really is representational of Latinos and Mexicans.”

In addition to the plays, Ainza touched on the variety of dance performances coming up in the Fall 2022 season with the upcoming show “Precipice” running weekends Oct. 28-Nov. 12, with the performance on the 30th being a sensory-friendly version.

“The dance shows are always spectacular; there are a variety of styles from contemporary to African to flamenco. And the dancers also work very hard, and students help with costumes, and lighting design, and set design,” Aniza wrote to the Daily Lobo. “The agility, flexibility, movement, and rhythm that our students in dance contain is astounding, and when they work in a group, it is moving!”

The plays for the fall 2022 season have a great variety of representation, including “Smokebox,” Franklin-Sullivan said.

“I'm super excited about the queer representation aspect of it, how it's about two young women who both are bisexual and build this beautiful relationship and live a long life together,” Franklin-Sullivan said.

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Elizabeth Secor is a beat reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @esecor2003

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