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Senior thesis production of 'God’s Country' set

Friday through Sunday, Dec. 11-13, and Tuesday through Thursday, Dec. 15-17, 2009, 8 p.m. Matthews Acting Studio, 185 Nassau St.

A senior thesis production of Steven Dietz's "God's Country," based on the true story of the white supremacist group known as The Order, will be held at 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Dec. 11-13, and Tuesday through Thursday, Dec. 15-17, in the Matthews Acting Studio, 185 Nassau St.

Dietz, whose 30-plus plays have been produced regionally, off-Broadway and internationally, will participate in a question-and-answer session immediately following the opening performance Dec. 11. The production is sponsored by the Program in Theater of the Lewis Center for the Arts.

Directed by senior Dominique Salerno and featuring senior Paul Miller, "God's Country" is a harrowing look at the religious, political and cultural convictions that fueled The Order's violent crimes. The Order's members were held responsible for the 1984 murder of Denver-based Jewish radio talk show host Alan Berg.

Salerno is a religion major pursuing a certificate in theater and one of this year's winners of the Lewis Center's Alex Adam Award, which supports students in the creation of an original work of art. She first saw "God's Country" in high school and has been haunted by both its theatricality and its intense subject matter. The production inspired her to concentrate in religion and to do her junior independent work on the belief structures that inform radical racist movements.

Although Dietz's documentary drama is rooted in Order ceremonies and trial transcripts, Salerno suggested that its emotional impact emerges from his depiction of ordinary lives and relationships lived out in the context of extremist ideologies. As she explained, "Dietz forces his audience to participate in the moral tension he creates, leaving to them the question of whether these people are monsters or men."

Tickets are $8 for students and senior citizens, and $10 for general admission. They are available online through University Ticketing or by calling (609) 258-9220.

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