Luna Stage to present ‘Heartland’ this April

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Luna Stage will present Gabriel Jason Dean’s “Heartland” from April 4 through 28. The intercontinental love story, directed by Ari Laura Kreith, will be the fourth production of Luna’s 2018-2019 Season. Set in Nebraska and Afghanistan, it has been described as “a magical new play about family, grace and the consequences of defending an American Empire.”

“One of the things I love about ‘Heartland’ is that it invites us to ask questions about our own responsibility, both to the people we love and to people we have never met,” Kreith said. “And it asks what we do when something we once thought was a moral action turns out to have had dark consequences.”

“In 1984, USAID and the CIA commissioned the University of Nebraska’s Center for Afghanistan Studies to create textbooks for Afghan schoolchildren. The textbooks are filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings … subtle, coercive propaganda meant to stimulate resistance against the U.S.S.R.,” Dean wrote. “‘Heartland’ is inspired by these true events.”

“Yet ‘Heartland’ is not a violent play,” Kreith added. “It’s a play about how we come together. It explores how we move forward with grace and love in the face of a past that may not be the one we would have chosen.”

The story of “Heartland” moves from Nebraska to Afghanistan, and travels backward and forward in time. Nazrullah, a young Afghani mathematician, arrives on the doorstep of Omaha literature professor Harold Banks, carrying a copy of “The Old Man and the Sea.” Across the world in Maidan Shar, Harold’s adopted daughter Getee teaches “The Diary of Anne Frank” and questions her identity while living and working in her birth country. Together, the three examine love, loss and what it truly means to take care of one another.

In conjunction with the production, Luna Stage is sharing the work of Australian photojournalist Richard Wainwright, who works with the NGO Act for Peace to document and support girls’ education in Afghanistan.

To purchase tickets, visit or call 973-395-5551.