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NMJC Teams Up with Center for the Arts

4/7/2015 12:29:22 p.m. - Hobbs, NM. [Story by Sean Czarnecki - Hobbs News Sun]

“Love Letters” was written on the eve of the Internet’s rise and the death of letter-writing.

Perhaps this is fitting for a play made up entirely of letters between two lovers in a 50-year relationship about loss and life. The only proof one will have that there was ever a Melissa Gardner and an Andrew Makepeace Ladd III, and that they loved each other, is in these letters.

The 1988 play by A.R. Gurney will show for the next three weekends at the Lea County Center for the Arts in a special joint production between the center and the New Mexico Junior College.

“We tried to find a way to work together, give them (the NMJC) a chance to do something off campus and get out into the community, a difference space,” said Andrew Akufo, executive director of the center. “This gives them the chance to also connect with the audience.”

The “weird non-play,” as playfully described by Gurney, begins with summer camp postcards, charts disappointment and joy and tragedy, without a set-piece or scene.

The production consists of two performers reading letters, making it simple and translatable to any space.

“It’s easy to cast,” Gurney wrote on his website, “because it works for all ages, easy to produce because it doesn’t require a set, and easy to rehearse because its letters are read rather than memorized and the actors remain seated throughout.”

Gurney is an inductee of the Theatre Hall of Fame and of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Regardless of its simplicity, or because of its simplicity, the production continues to circulate and play.

NMJC associate professor Nathan Miles is one of the principal organizers behind the event, and will perform one of its iterations at the center.

“I read it about a decade ago and I always liked it,” Miles said. “I think it’s beautiful. It invites the audience to use their imagination to fill in the blanks. We’re going to try to stay honest to the material. And it’s great because the audience has to listen to the words being spoken.” Recently sworn in probate judge and Hobbs Community player Sandy Goad also volunteered her time to perform the play.

“I like it because it really is a play that follows a relationship from childhood to beyond,” Goad said. “That’ interesting to me. It’s like an unrequited love kind of thing and an interesting read.”

Akufo said depending on how well “Love Letters” goes, there may be more theatre productions to come to the center for the arts.

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