New Jersey Repertory Company, located at 179 Broadway in Long Branch is proud to present the National New Play Network premiere of “Eden Prairie, 1971” written by Mat Smart. Directed by Evan Bergman, the play stars Andrea Gallo, Oriana Lada, and Emilio Cuesta. Performances are October 20th through November 20th, Thursdays & Fridays 8pm; Saturdays 3pm & 8pm; and Sundays at 2pm. Patrons can purchase tickets by calling NJRep at 732-229-3166 or from our website www.njrep.org.
As war churns in Vietnam, night falls over the tranquil hills and creeks of a small Midwestern town, and a young woman hears a tap at her window. On the same night Apollo 15 makes its lunar landing, a young draft-dodger steals home to Eden Prairie, after a 300-mile trek from Canada. He risks arrest to deliver an important message to his childhood friend, Rachel. Both are caught between duty to the ones they love and their own futures. In a moment of national tension that mirrors our own, the young man must defend his choices and grapple with the sacrifices he has made. Mat Smart’s stark, passionate drama skillfully questions our notions of bravery and responsibility. Due to the adult nature of the play no one under 16 will be admitted.
The production team for “Eden Prairie, 1971” includes: Evan Bergman (Director/Associate Artistic Director), Kristin Pfeifer (Production Stage Manager), Patricia E. Doherty (Costume Design), Nick Simone (Sound Design), Jessica Parks (Scenic Design/Props), Jill Nagle (Lighting Design), Rachael Malloy (Assistant Stage Manager), Janey Huber (Assistant Lighting Designer/Assistant Director), James Lockhart (Master Electrician), Brian Snyder (Technical Director), Donna Stiles (Scenic Design Assistant), Blake Robinson (Props Assistant)
Andrea Gallo New York credits include: Kurt Vonnegut’s Mother Night; The Respectful Prostitute; Ring Round the Moon; Hidden Voices (w/Terrence Mann); world premieres of Strings, The Velvet Oratorio, Frankie, Coney, and The Chaos Theories. Regional credits: The Niceties, Chester Theatre Company; The Last Romance and Private Lives, Riverside Theatre; Third, TheaterWorks Hartford; Good People, St. Louis Rep; Over the River and Through the Woods, Florida Rep; The Last Romance and The Language Archive, Public Theatre; Mercy and the Firefly, Luna Stage; Murderers, Hudson Stage; A View From The Bridge, Nevada Rep; Memoirs of a Forgotten Man, Evie’s Waltz, Tilt Angel, tempOdyssey, and two solo shows, Broomstick and Donna Orbits the Moon, NJ Rep; What Every Woman Knows, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Noises Off, Lettice and Lovage, I’m Not Rappaport, Horse Cave Theatre. TV/Film credits: City on a Hill, Law and Order: SVU, Sober, On Settling Down, Look on the Bright Side, Brooklyn Battery, The Query, Chasing Taste, The Date and Across Dot Ave. Earphones Award winner for audiobook narration. BA, Tufts University; MFA, Temple University. Fulbright Recipient (Paris, France).
Oriana, who was born and raised in Minnesota, is thrilled to be back at NJ Rep after workshopping Eden Prairie, 1971 here last year. She is an actress and singer based in New York City. You can currently spot her in Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. commercials running nationwide. She is also the co-host of Verizon Media’s ADD TO CART. NYC: Summer Valley Fair (New York Musical Festival). Regional: A Christmas Carol (Trinity Repertory Company). Film: Lolita Express (Houselight). Education: BFA, University of Evansville; MFA, Brown/Trinity Rep. Love to Matthew – I can’t wait to marry you!
Emilio Cuesta is a New York-based actor and musician. He can be seen in primetime television series, including Showtime’s Homeland and City on a Hill, as well as Dopesick on Hulu. Other credits include American Assassin and the independent feature, From Nowhere. Prior to the Covid pandemic, he was cast as the lead in Greg Kotis’s (Tony-award winning writer for Urinetown) off-Broadway show I am Nobody. He trained at the William Esper Studio and The Beverly Hills Playhouse Club. Emilio is also director for film and television, being recently admitted to the DGA after doing second unit work for the upcoming FOX series, Accused. Aside from acting and directing, Emilio helms the live rock band QUESTA. He has released several singles, and his first single “Feedin” was bought by M. Night Shyamalan to be used in the Apple TV series, Servant. The band has and continues to perform around Manhattan’s underground music scene at establishments such as the Cutting Room, Arlenes Grocery, Rockwood Music Hall, and many more.
Mat Smart has written 25 full-length plays that have been produced around the country and he currently has several television and film projects in development. The Agitators, his play about the true, untold friendship between Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, has been produced at 20 different theatres from Maine to Seattle. He recently adapted The Agitators into a podcast hosted by Ashley C. Ford and produced by PRX, the National Park Service, and the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission. Select plays include: Kill Local (La Jolla Playhouse, nominated for Outstanding New Play by the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle; recently translated into Korean and produced in Seoul), The Royal Society of Antarctica (Gift Theatre, recipient of the 2015 Jeff Award for Best New Work in Chicago), Samuel J. and K. (Williamstown Theatre Festival; Steppenwolf for Young Adults), and Tinker to Evers to Chance (Geva; Merrimack Rep). An avid traveler and baseball fan, Mat has been to all of the states, all of the continents, and all of the current MLB stadiums. A native of Naperville, Illinois, he currently lives in Brooklyn. Undergrad: University of Evansville. MFA: UCSD.
Evan Bergman (Director) – Over the years Evan has directed over 15 productions for New Jersey Rep, many of them world premieres. He is extremely proud of the body of work and the theater’s ability to identify a wide range of talented playwrights deserving to have their plays produced. He has also directed world premieres at many other theaters including Ensemble Studio Theater, The Duke, Daryl Roth, Barrington Stage, Jane Street, Playwrights Horizon, Arclight, The Tiffany and 59E59. His film work includes the recent short film Day Zero which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and was called ”A cautionary tale, perfectly realized” by Oscar award winning Director James Ivory. Dig A Hole, Find A Finger, Palm Springs and Newport Beach International Film Festivals and his Documentary for Warner Music Group featuring Roger Daltry (The Who), Philip Bailey (Earth Wind and Fire). Currently he is in pre-production for a new Feature film he wrote about the life of Oyster Farmers called Life on the Flats which starts principle filming in the spring of 2023.