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Hendrix Players Present ‘The Hope Hypothesis’ February 22-25

Student production led by visiting director and Hendrix alumnus William Ragsdale ’83

Pictured in a recent rehearsal of The Hope Hypothesis, from left: Liam Puls ’26 as FBI agent 1; William Ragsdale ’83, director; Lain Shoals ’25 as Amena Qamar; John Straessle ’26 as FBI agent 2. / Photo by Kendra Baldwin ’26

CONWAY, Arkansas (February 13, 2023)—The Hendrix Players and the Hendrix College Department of Theatre Arts and Dance present four performances of Cat Miller’s dark comedy The Hope Hypothesis in Cabe Theatre on the Hendrix College campus, 1600 Washington Avenue in Conway.

Performance times are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, Feb. 22-24, and 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25. Admission is free, but reservations are required and may be made through Eventbrite.

The plot of The Hope Hypothesis centers on Amena Qamar, a model immigrant. A refugee from war-torn Syria, she has fled to the United States and fully embraced the American way of life, graduated from college, and is finishing up her third year of law school. Her goal is to bring the cherished American principles of protection under rule of law to the world by working in international humanitarian law. But when pursuing her path towards citizenship reveals a flaw in her paperwork, Amena’s plans are suddenly put in peril. She must overcome the suspicions about her past by of those in authority to avoid deportation… or worse.

William Ragsdale, a native of El Dorado, Arkansas, and a 1983 Hendrix College graduate, has returned to campus as the Murphy Visiting Theatre Director for this production, which is funded by programming support from the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature and Language. Murphy Visiting Theatre Directors spend six weeks as artists-in-residence to direct a play, in the process teaching students about how directors interact with scripts, as well as providing insight into dramaturgy and directing.

After graduating from Hendrix, Ragsdale went on to become an award-winning stage and screen actor. He made his Broadway debut in 1985, replacing Matthew Broderick as Eugene Morris Jerome in Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues; that same year he starred as Charley Brewster in the Columbia Pictures film Fright Night. His television credits include the lead role in the 1990s Fox series Herman’s Head and recurring roles on Ellen (as Ellen’s “last” boyfriend), Judging Amy, Less Than Perfect, Search Party, and Justified, as well as dozens of individual guest appearances on other episodic series.

“It’s really been such a pleasure to be back on campus and to be back in the Cabe Theatre,” Ragsdale said. “I hadn’t fully anticipated how special it would be to get to create a whole new batch of wonderful memories to go along with the old ones that already I have of being on this stage 40 years ago. It’s a really special place and the students are amazing. They’re so engaged, inquisitive, creative, committed… you know, they’re just ‘Hendrixy.’”

The Hope Hypothesis cast and crew for this production includes:

Lain Shoals ’25—Amena Qamar

Ryan Fuller ’25—Teller

Liam Puls ’26—FBI agent 1

John Straessle ’26—FBI agent 2

John Trieschmann ’25—Supervisor

Aidan Walsh ’26—Brendan

Jada Shorter ’26—Carol

Stage Manager: Katie Baker ’25

Assistant Stage Managers: Mikala Clendenin ’26 and Lyida Le ’26

Light Board Operator and Programmer: Ivy Branum ’26

Sound Board Technician: Abriel Davis ’24

Sound Designer and Operator: Landry Dosher ’23

Properties Artisans and Crew: Rhett Booher ’24, Andrew Lawrence ’26, and Evelyn Calhoun ’26

Scenic Crew: Jules Bardi ’25

Costume Assistant Designers and Crew: Kendra Baldwin ’26, Ella Britt ’25, Lovey Krone ’25, Savannah Loving ’26, Gray Pair ’25, Griffin Squires ’24

Scenery and Lights: Linc Luke ’26, Josie Nunn ’24, Rachel Petelle ’23, Justin Smith ’24

Costume and Makeup: Sophia Parrish ’26 and Madeline Mundkowsky ’26

House and Publicity: Grey Pair ’25 and Griffin Squires ’24

Website: Evan Werner ’22

Costume Crew: Grey Pair ’25, Kendra Baldwin ’26

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit