UNLV students' plays attract national attention

Oscar Limón and Laura Neubauer, graduate students in the master of fine arts playwriting program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, have seen their plays produced before. But now their works are moving to a national stage.

Limón's "Archaic Friendship" and Neubauer's "Brick" were invited by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival to the New Play Development Workshop Tuesday through Saturday at California State University, Los Angeles.

Both of the plays have been produced at UNLV. Part of the One Act Play Festival on the campus last fall, they were chosen for the workshop at that time. This week's challenge, Limón and Neubauer said, is that they will be testing their plays by putting them into the hands of directors and actors with whom they have not worked, to see how they fare in an unfamiliar environment.

"Often a character can be successful because we have a great actor," Neubauer said.

"It's beneficial because I'll be able to hear what works and what doesn't work," Limón said, "realizing that the script can survive past this production that I had at UNLV -- it's not like just a fluke, that these actors were good and it was them, as opposed to the script."

The workshop also will provide the opportunity, Neubauer said, "to focus in on the very, very small details of playwriting, like words or syllables or a period. The details might be changed a little bit, like the rhythm in which the characters are speaking."

Limón said "Archaic Friendship" is the story of two women who hadn't spoken in 20 years until they're brought together at their children's wedding.

"We learn the relationships between the two women, and through flashbacks we realize what happened to them from not talking for 20 years," he said.

Neubauer said "Brick" also is a family story, involving a widow who lives with her pregnant 16-year-old daughter and sister-in-law and decides to remarry on the first anniversary of her husband's death.

"For the rest of the play, the struggle is who is the daughter going to live with," she said. The two women, she said, have the daughter's "future laid out for her, but nobody bothers to ask her what she wants."

Both students have been writing plays for years, with several works produced, and remain dedicated to playwriting.

"There was something about creating characters, creating alternate worlds that are completely different from me that I found completely appealing and interesting," Limón said. "Realizing that they come from me."

"It's a strange phenomenon, seeing things you create in your head come to life onstage," Neubauer said. "There's really no way to describe it. I think it's very exhilarating."

Contact reporter Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-0474.