UNM Department of Theatre and Dance Master of Fine Arts in dramatic writing student Christina Hjelm received the KCACTF Latino Playwriting Award for her play, "Casualties of Dreams and Sand." The award is part of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Michael Kanin Playwriting Awards program. It comes with $1,000, a summer professional development residency, membership in both the Dramatists Guild of America and the Playwrights Center of Minneapolis, and an invitation to be in residence at the Kennedy Center during the KCACTF National Festival.

Hjelm is a Miami grown Cuban American writer. She attended the University of Miami for undergraduate studies in vocal performance and theatre and is now in her second year with UNM's dramatic writing graduate program.

"Casualties of Dreams and Sand" will be presented as part of the 2012 Words Afire! Festival of New Plays, with two performances in UNM's Experimental Theatre: at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 12, and Friday, April 20. The play tells the story of Adriana. At a time when the U.S. economy is collapsing and American soldiers continue to die in the Middle East, Adriana's home falls victim to the mortgage crisis while her soldier husband is away fighting in Iraq. When this teenage wife decides to steal back her foreclosed home, she finds herself face-to-face with an unexpected squatter that she will never forget. Valli Rivera directs the reading of this award-winning play.

Performances are free. For more information about this and the other world premiere plays, visit Words Afire!

Story by Kathleen Clawson