By Guadalupe Santos-Sanchez
NOT a Robot (humans wrote this) is an evening of 14 new plays by old souls, said faculty director Susan Erickson.
NOT a Robot is a theater production that premieres on March 22 and will have showings until March 31 at CNM’s Coal Avenue Theatre (CAT) with showings only from Fridays through Sundays.
Friday and Saturday shows will be at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday showings will be at 2 p.m.
The production is a series of plays that run from 2 to 10 minutes in length and offer something for everyone, Erickson said.
“These fourteen brand-new, short plays were not written by robots. Humans wrote them: humans not afraid to share their sorrows, their joys, their longings, their sense of fun, and their wonder at the challenge of being alive,” she said.
These humans also happen to be CNM student writers from the Fall 2018 Theatre class called Intro to Playwrighting, she said.
Playwright Jennifer Klecker, whose play is a comedy called Flange Factory Fatality said the assignment was to pull a word out of a hat and write a one-page play around it; the play could only be one page and only have two characters.
“The assignment was challenging and fun,” she said.
While many of the playwrights will also be acting in the production, for some this is the first time one of their written pieces is part of a production.
Playwright Gus Tafoya’s story Something Fell From the Catwalk is “gripping and dreamlike,” said Erickson.
Tafoya said that having actors read it is one thing, but once they are on stage and giving it their all, it is “wickedly” emotional.
Playwright Sheldon Blackhorse, whose comedy is called Angus and Christy said, “It is a bit nerve-wracking at first because you don’t know how it is going to be read. How the rest of the class will interact, will they find it interesting or will they find it boring or confusing.”
Playwright Maya Martin’s story called Debased Motherf*#* is based on an event that happened to her at a bus stop, Martin said.
She also said it was nerve-wracking and emotional to see her work come to life in the classroom, but added, “after I made my peace with it and saw how important it is to share this story, I am more than excited to see the final product.”
Playwright Banx Tenorio said that even though they are all friends and colleagues, there is still the pressure to make sure they are creating the vision that the playwright had in mind when they wrote the piece.
Tenorio said that his story is personal and is only described by Erickson as “a soft, piercing meditation on…mortality” simply called Here.
But working with Erickson and having the advantage of working with the Playwrights is definitely great because they have the ability to ask the questions they have about the world and character development, he said.
The cast and crew have no previous productions, reviews, articles, or information to research or learn from when mounting these new works and so have to be artistically awake every second, Erickson said.
“You write some words down on a page, and then it morphs into this living, breathing, unexpectedly delightful thing,” said playwright Colby Lein, whose story is a “comedy-mini-musical” called Shine.
The hope is that the Theater Department will be able to continue to create this wonderful experience for students in the future, she said.
Those involved in the production are also keeping the details under wraps as much as they can. “They are very hush, hush about how it is going. Actually, I almost got to hear the opening music to my sketch but before I could listen I got whisked out of the theater,” Blackhorse said.
Bringing a brand-new play to life is a collaboration of many, and the writers are putting their trust in the cast and crew to produce the plays they wrote, Erickson said.
“We don’t want to explain it. We just want you to experience it,” Erickson said.
For tickets visit cnm.edu/CAT where they are available to purchase for $5 each.