Luna Stage to Premiere New Play Via Text Message: #RIFT by Gabriel Jason Dean

West Orange, N.J. –— Luna Stage announces a bold new theatrical experience in three parts: #RIFT by Gabriel Jason Dean. Through the lens of two real-life brothers—one a convicted murderer, the other a playwright; one a member of the alt-right, the other an A.O.C.-type progressive—#RIFT explores whether it is possible to bridge fundamental political and ideological divides.

This three-part project has been designed to be both fluid and responsive. The first phase is a virtual experience: a durational play delivered over text message beginning April 9. Tickets are free but capacity is limited. Reservations are required, and are available at lunastage.org.

Playwright Gabriel Jason Dean, familiar to Luna audiences as the writer of Heartland, named one of NJ’s Top 10 Productions of 2019 by The Star Ledger/NJ.com, is investigating a deeply personal landscape. Dean’s brother is a currently-incarcerated member of the alt-right, and the two had barely spoken in 10 years. In creating this piece, Dean reconnected with his brother to explore the roots of their ideological differences, to see if there is any way to find common ground, and to try to understand what love means in this context.

In addition to receiving a fictionalized account of Dean’s correspondence with his brother, audience members will be encouraged to reach out across divides that seem unbridgeable in their own lives, and to share the experiences of those interactions with the artistic team via a virtual platform. Luna Stage and Dean hope to integrate audience reflections about rifts in their own lives into the design of the final chapter of this experience, a play that will be performed live and live-streamed.

“We believe that this deep and ongoing engagement with the creative process will allow audiences and artists to become collaborative partners, grappling together with how we understand our past and imagine our future,” said Luna Artistic Director Ari Laura Kreith.

The second phase of #RIFT, launching later this spring, will encourage audience members to explore how they might reach across divides in their own lives and to share back these experiences. Audience stories will then be interwoven with the brother’s interactions to create a third piece. For the final installment, viewers can attend a culminating and revelatory final chapter at Luna Stage, with both virtual and in-person attendance options available.


This event is part of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance 2021 Stages Festival, made possible by support from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; Bank of America; The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey; OceanFirst Foundation; the George A. Ohl, Jr. Trust; New Jersey Historical Commission; and Fund for the New Jersey Blind. www.njtheatrealliance.org/stages

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