The New Jersey Repertory Company, located at 179 Broadway in Long Branch, will 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 take place from October 20 to November 20, Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturday 3 p.m. & 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 2 p.m. Customers can purchase tickets by calling NJRep at 732-229-3166 or from our website www.njrep.org.
As war rages in Vietnam, night falls over the peaceful hills and coves of a small Midwestern town, and a young woman hears a knock at her window. On the same night that Apollo 15 makes its lunar landing, a rebellious youngster returns home to Eden Prairie, after a 300 mile trek from Canada. He risks being arrested for delivering an important message to his childhood friend, Rachel. Both are caught between duty to those they love and their own future. In a moment of national tension that mirrors ours, the young man must defend his choices and fight against the sacrifices he has made. Mat Smart’s stark, impassioned drama deftly interrogates our notions of bravery and responsibility. Due to the adult nature of the room, no one under the age of 16 will be admitted.
The production team for “Eden Prairie, 1971” includes: Evan Bergman (director/associate art director), Kristin Pfeifer (production manager), Patricia E. Doherty (costume design), Nick Simone (sound design), Jessica Parks (Scenic Design/Props Design), Jill Nagle (Lighting Design), Rachael Malloy (Assistant Stage Manager), Janey Huber (Assistant Lighting Designer/Assistant Director), James Lockhart (Master Electrician), Brian Snyder (Director technical), Donna Stiles (stage design assistant), Blake Robinson (props assistant)
Andrea Gallo New York credits include: Kurt Vonnegut’s Mother Night; The respectful prostitute; Ring around the moon; Hidden Voices (with Terrence Mann); world premieres of Strings, The Velvet Oratorio, Frankie, Coney and The Chaos Theories. Regional credits: The Niceties, Chester Theater Company; The Last Romance and Private Lives, Riverside Theatre; Third, TheaterWorks Hartford; Good People, St. Louis Rep; Over the river and through the woods, representing Florida; The Last Romance and The Language Archive, public theatre; Mercy and the Firefly, Luna Stage; Murderers, Hudson scene; A view of the bridge, representing Nevada; Memoirs of a Forgotten Man, Evie’s Waltz, Tilt Angel, tempOdyssey and two solo exhibitions, Broomstick and Donna Orbits the Moon, NJ Rep; What Every Woman Knows, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Noises Off, Lettice and Livage, 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 for Audiobook Storytelling. BA, Tufts University; MFA, Temple University. Beneficiary Fulbright (Paris, France).
Oriana, who was born and raised in Minnesota, is thrilled to be back at NJ Rep after the Eden Prairie, 1971 workshop here last year. She is an actress and singer based in New York. You can currently see her in Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. commercials airing nationwide. She is also a co-host of Verizon Media’s ADD TO CART. NYC: Summer Valley Fair (New York Music Festival). Regional: A Christmas Carol (Trinity Repertory Company). Movie: Lolita Express (Houselight). Education: BFA, University of Evansville; MFA, Brown/Trinity Rep. Love to Matthew – Can’t wait to marry you!
Emilio Cuesta is an actor and musician based in New York. He can be seen on prime-time 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. Before the Covid pandemic, he was chosen to lead Greg Kotis’ (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 a film and television director, having recently been admitted to the DGA after working as a second unit for the upcoming FOX series, Accused. Besides acting and directing, Emilio leads the live rock band QUESTA. They have released several singles, and their lead single “Feedin'” was purchased by M. Night Shyamalan for use in the Apple TV series, Servant. The band performed and continue to perform in the Manhattan underground music scene in establishments such as the Cutting Room, Arlenes Grocery, Rockwood Music Hall and many more.
Mat Smart (Playwright)
Mat Smart has written 25 full-length plays which have been produced nationwide and he currently has several television and film projects in development. The Agitators, his play about the untold true friendship between Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, has been produced in 20 different theaters 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. Selected plays include: Kill Local (La Jolla Playhouse, nominated for Outstanding New Play by the San Diego Theater Critics Circle; recently translated into Korean and produced in Seoul), The Royal Society of Antarctica (Gift Theatre, recipient of the Jeff Award 2015 for Best New Work in Chicago), Samuel J. and K. (Williamstown Theater Festival; Steppenwolf for Young Adults) and Tinker to Evers to Chance (Geva; Merrimack Rep). An avid traveler and baseball fan, Mat has visited every state, every continent and every current MLB stadium. Originally from Naperville, Illinois, he currently lives in Brooklyn. Undergraduate: University of Evansville. MFA: UCSD.
Evan Bergman (director)
Over the years, Evan has done over 15 productions for New Jersey Rep, many of which were world premieres. He is immensely proud of the body of work and the theatre’s ability to identify a wide range of talented playwrights worthy of having their plays produced. He has also conducted world premieres at many other theaters including Ensemble Studio Theatre, 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 titled “A cautionary tale, perfectly directed” by Oscar-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 he wrote about the lives of oyster farmers titled Life on the Flats, which will begin filming in the spring of 2023.