Night Over Taos: A Theatrical and Historical Journey From the Taos Revolt to Statehood

By on January 5, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE – 1847 was a crucial year in the history ofNew Mexico. The Mexican War was raging. TheUnited Stateshad occupied Nuevo México without a fight, installed a governor, and moved on to takeCalifornia. But a group of Spanish settlers and Indians inTaosrebelled. Under the leadership of Pablo Montoya, they assassinated Governor Bent and vowed to fight theUnited States’ effort to take over their valley and their town.

   In 1932, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Maxwell Anderson read an article by New Mexican writer Harvey Fergusson about this chapter inNew Mexicohistory and saw the makings of a historical drama of epic proportions. The result was “Night Over Taos,” premiered by the famous Group Theatre inNew York, directed by Lee Strasberg, and starring some ofAmerica’s finest actors of the 1930s, including Franchot Tone, Burgess Meredith, Luther and Stella Adler, and Sanford Meisner.

   Now “Night Over Taos” becomes the focal point of a very special New Mexico Centennial Project developed collaboratively by four distinguished New Mexican cultural organizations: Camino Real Productions, Teatro Nuevo México, theNationalHispanicCulturalCenter, and KUNM public/community radio. A live reading of a radio adaptation of the play will be followed by a panel discussion by leading New Mexico historians: Dr. Rick Hendricks, the NM State Historian; Dr. Laura Gómez, author of Manifest Destinies; and Dr. Brian Herrera, University of New Mexico theatre historian. They will address questions raised by the play and discussNew Mexico’s journey from defeat in theBattleforTaosin 1847 to statehood fifty-five years later. The project has been named an official NM Centennial Project; more details are available on the Centennial website:

   Director Shepard Sobel is rehearsing a cast of 15 actors for the reading, a free public event that will take place on Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 7:00 pm in theNationalHispanicCulturalCenter’s Bank of America Theatre. The NHCC is located at1701 4th Street SWon the corner of4th Streetand Avenida César Chávez. Both the reading and the panel discussion will be recorded by KUNM for a special two and a half hour broadcast on Sunday, January 8, 2012 during the actual Centennial Week.

   Support for the “Night Over Taos” project is provided by the Century Arts Foundation inNew York, the New Mexico Humanities Council, and the participating organizations. For more information or to schedule interviews, contact Linda Lopez McAlister at (505) 247-1909 or

   TheNationalHispanicCulturalCenter, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Hispanic art and culture at the local, state, national, and international levels.

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