Luna Stage will present Gabriel Jason Dean’s Heartland from April 4-28. The intercontinental love story directed by Ari Laura Kreith will be the fourth production of Luna’s 2018-2019 Season. Set in Nebraska and Afghanistan, it has been described as “a magical new play about family, grace, and the consequences of defending an American Empire.”
“One of the things I love about Heartland is that it invites us to ask questions about our own responsibility, both to the people we love and to people we have never met,” says director Kreith. “And it asks what we do when something we once thought was a moral action turns out to have had dark consequences.”
“In 1984, USAID and the CIA commissioned the University of Nebraska’s Center for Afghanistan Studies to create textbooks for Afghan schoolchildren. The textbooks are filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings… subtle, coercive propaganda meant to stimulate resistance against the U.S.S.R. Heartland,” writes playwright Dean “is inspired by these true events.”
“Yet Heartland is not a violent play,” adds Kreith. “It’s a play about how we come together. It explores how we move forward with grace and love in the face of a past that may not be the one we would have chosen.”
The story of Heartland moves from Nebraska to Afghanistan, and travels backward and forward in time. Nazrullah, a young Afghani mathematician, arrives on the doorstep of Omaha literature professor Dr. Harold Banks, carrying a copy of The Old Man and the Sea. Across the world in Maidan Shar, Harold’s adopted daughter Getee teaches The Diary of Anne Frank and questions her identity while living and working in her birth country. Together, the three examine love, loss, and what it truly means to take care of one another.
In conjunction with the production, Luna Stage is sharing the work of Australian photojournalist Richard Wainwright, who works with the NGO Act for Peace to document and support girls’ education in Afghanistan.
Heartland is the final play in Luna’s 2018-19 season, which has featured four plays exploring how we bridge cultural divides. The season has included J.Stephen Brantley’s Pirira, set simultaneously in Malawi and Manhattan; Camilo Almonacid’s The Assignment, exploring gun violence and reconciliation; and most recently the World Premiere of Christina Gorman’s Roan @ The Gates, a cybersecurity love story.
Tickets are $16-39, and are available at LunaStage.org/Heartland or by calling 973-395-5551. A limited number of premium Opening Night tickets are available for $59, which includes the post-show party with cast and creative team.