Las Vegas, N.M. – Highlands University alumna and playwright Patricia Crespín’s new play, Fall Out, will premiere at the university March 29 at 7:30 p.m. in Ilfeld Auditorium at 900 University Ave.
The play, which is free and open to the public, contains adult themes and language. It will be performed primarily by Highlands students as part of a two-day event called the Ghost Light Project, which happens on March 28 and 29.
“Fall Out grew out of the hateful rhetoric being used by specific candidates in the 2016 presidential election,” Crespín said. “Two prominent themes in the play address racism, with people of color being villainized, and women being dehumanized and devalued. The Highlands students are doing a fantastic job on the play.
“On March 28, there will be a Highlands student panel discussion on equity in education including stories by students who have experiences in racism, classism, sexism, ageism and disability issues. Fall Out covers a variety of these same themes,” Crespín said.
The Ghost Light Project panel discussion will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Highlands Student Center Third Floor Governance Room, 800 National Ave. It is also open to the public. Hors d’ oeuvres will be served.
“Ghost lights are a safe and welcoming symbol for all people,” said Eli Mohanna, interim co-director for Highlands’ Achieving in Research, Math and Science (ARMAS) center. “We want our Highlands campus to honor people of all races, classes, religions, immigration status, sexual orientation, and other individuals.”
The Ghost Light Project is a national initiative that aims to activate a network across college campuses to support vulnerable communities. The ghost light symbolizes the lone light left on to provide a safe space after theater performances..
Mohanna said 17 ghost lights will be installed around the Highlands main campus, including locations at the university bookstore, the Felix Martínez Building, Ilfeld Auditorium, Sala de Madrid, Melody Hall, and the Ivan Hilton Science Building. They will be lit beginning March 29 from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and will remain indefinitely.
A number of Highlands programs worked together to sponsor the Ghost Light Project, including ARMAS, HU-CARES, Career Services, Highlands Undergraduate Experience (HUE), the Outdoor Recreation Center, the Native American Center, Title V Unidos, and the Office of the President. Luna Community College is also a sponsor.
Crespín said her plays share stories that have touched her life in profound ways, especially stories about women. She said one of the reasons she became a playwright was that she realized there were not enough good roles for Hispanic women and wanted to change that.
“So, I made my artistic journey about creating these formidable, commanding roles for women, and telling the vital, often devastating, yet incredibly entertaining stories of the Hispanic culture I love so dearly,” Crespín said.
Crespín’s 2006 play We Are Hispanic-American Women…Okay? premiered at Highlands in 2006 and was produced in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Farmington, New Mexico, to critical acclaim.
We Are Hispanic-American Women…Okay? was the basis for the 2010 film Before We Say Goodbye. Crespín was the screenwriter and co-producer for the film, which also received critical acclaim.
Crespín said humor is important in her 13 plays. “I offer up moments of humor to counter the intensity of the themes of my plays and this is also true of Fall Out.”
Crespín is a Highlands music and theater alumna who went on to complete her Master of Fine Arts degree in dramatic writing from the University of New Mexico. Since 2015, she has taught Beginning Speech class at Highlands.
“I get to see so many incredible students at Highlands develop their skills and I also get to learn a little from them,” Crespín said.