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Livestreaming a Performance of Heartland at the VORTEX in Austin, Texas
The VORTEX in Austin, Texas, in partnership with The National New Play Network, presents Heartland
Dr. Harold Banks, a retired University of Nebraska professor of Comparative Literature and Afghan Studies, is reeling after his adopted daughter Getee is killed by the Taliban while teaching children outside of Kabul. When Afghan refugee Nazrullah arrives at his door carrying Getee's prized books, the two men form an unlikely bond. Heartland draws a line from the “Cold War” to the “War on Terror” and demands that we reckon with the consequences of defending an American Empire. Set in both Maidan Shar, Afghanistan and Omaha, Nebraska, and inspired by true events, Heartland is a story of healing, grace, and connection.
Heartland was conceived and written by Gabriel Jason Dean as a direct response to the true story of the US government’s textbook propaganda contributing to the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan. With the longest war in US history still ravaging Afghanistan with US involvement since 2001, we must continue to be engaged in public discourse on this devastating conflict.
The VORTEX is committed to producing "urgent, unashamed art," and Heartland is Gabriel Jason Dean’s most urgent piece. He excavates stories of race and class at the heart of our fractured country. In Heartland, he focuses on how we have spread a history of violence across the world. Government choices change the lives and break the hearts of ordinary folk from the fields of Nebraska to the hills of Afghanistan.
Gabriel Jason Dean’s plays Terminus and Qualities of Starlight received multiple B. Iden Payne and Austin Critics’ Table Awards for excellence in writing, performance, design, direction, and production with their world premiere VORTEX productions.
Heartland was first produced as a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere by Geva Theatre Center, Rochester, NY, New Repertory Theatre, Watertown, MA, The VORTEX, Austin, TX, and InterAct Theatre Company, Center City, PA.
Directed by Rudy Ramirez, VORTEX Associate Artistic Director. Starring Lowell Bartholomee (Harold), Kareem Badr (Nazrullah), and Kacey Samiee (Getee).
Scenic Design by Ann Marie Gordon. Lighting Design by Patrick Anthony. Costume Design by Delena Bradleyl Sound Design by David DeMaris. Prop Design by Helen Parish. Humaira Ghilzai, Afghanistan Cultural Consultant. Dari language coach, Hasti Ahmadi. Stage Management, Tamara L. Farley. Bonnie Cullum, Producing Artistic Director.
About Gabriel Jason Dean (Playwright) is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter from Atlanta, GA who currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. His critically-acclaimed plays include IN BLOOM (Kennedy Center Paula Vogel Award, Laurents / Hatcher Award Finalist, Princess Grace Award Runner-Up); QUALITIES OF STARLIGHT (Broadway Blacklist, Kesselring Nomination, Essential Theatre New Play Prize, B. Iden Payne Awards for Outstanding Comedy & Best Original Script; TERMINUS (James Tait Black Prize Finalist, B. Iden Payne Awards for Outstanding Drama & Best Original Script, Austin Critic’s Table Award Best Production) HEARTLAND (
Heartland is funded and supported in part by Bloomberg Philanthropies, National New Play Network (NNPN) Rolling World Premiere, VORTEX Repertory Company, and by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.
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