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Playwright’s Theatre to Present Reading of Alumnus’ Play

CONWAY, Ark. (August 29, 2012) - The annual Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Playwright's Theatre will present a staged reading of Conduit by 2003 Hendrix graduate James Mainard O'Connell on Friday, Sept. 7, at 7:30 p.m. in Cabe Theatre.

The event is co-sponsored by the Hendrix College Department of Theatre Arts and Dance and is open to the public and free of admission. No tickets or reservations are required. The readings will be followed by an audience discussion and a reception in Mills Lobby.

For more information, contact Henryetta Vanaman at 501-450-4597 or

About the play

Conduit follows the experience of Lisa Thomas, a young journalist, as she works to uncover the truth about the death of a black teenager in New Brunswick, N. J., during the 2008 election season. Lisa's work is complicated by her editor, who is insistent that truth requires facts, and by the story itself, which becomes more complex with each interview.

About the playwright

O'Connell is the winner of the 2012 Hendrix-Murphy Alumni Playwriting Contest. He recently returned to Arkansas to direct the middle school and high school theatre program at Episcopal Collegiate School in Little Rock. He holds master's degrees in Shakespeare and Renaissance literature in performance from Mary Baldwin College. He has also taught at James Madison University and Kingsborough Community College, and his scholarly work is published in "Renaissance Papers, 2008" and the online journal. 

As a theatre professional, James has worked as an actor, director, and/or technical director at several theatres, including the Peterborough Players, American Shakespeare Center, Maryland Shakespeare Festival, Columbia Stages, New Players Company, and others. Additionally, James was the owner and artistic director of Golden Duck Productions, a traveling children's theatre and murder mystery dinner theatre company in 2007 and 2008. 

About the cast & crew

  • Lesley Dancer '01 graduated from Hendrix with a degree in theatre arts and has been actively involved with several theatre-related enterprises, working as both a production assistant and assistant general manager for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre in 2002 and 2007. She recently began teaching theatre and rhetoric at Parkview Arts and Science Magnet School and later at eStem High School (both of Little Rock). Currently, Lesley is adjunct professor of theatre arts at Pulaski Technical College, where she has directed and assisted with multiple theatre productions there. Lesley will direct the reading of Conduit.
  • Alecia Hendrix '01 graduated with a theatre arts degree and began her career in banking immediately after graduation. She will play Lisa Thomas.
  • Colter McCorkindale '98 has been living in New York City for four years and has played guitar at Lincoln Center (with 200 other guitarists) but, generally, his performing is limited to playing in tiny cabarets. Colter will play Trent Ekdahl.
  • Brett Carr '10 graduated from Hendrix with a major in theatre arts and a minor in politics. For the past two years he's worked as a Hendrix admissions counselor. Brett was actively involved in the theatre program at Hendrix. He was a two-time Ella M. Shanks Memorial Endowed Scholarship recipient and designed the set for Eurydice his senior year. Brett was a participant in the Burn Out Macbeth team that went to Scotland and also won the Hendrix-Murphy Student Playwriting contest in 2009 for The Adventures of Ordinary Man, or Something Completely Different. He will read the part of Jim Conyer.
  • Mark Young '01 has participated in numerous theatre productions at Hendrix, including past Playwright's Theatre productions. He currently lives in Conway and is a sports therapist and owner of Life-Letics Sports Therapy. He will play Detective Travis.
  • Marvin McLennon '12 designed his own interdisciplinary major in communications and will play Harvell Prince.
  • Sydnee Davis '15 from Spring, Texas, is studying psychology and will play Eleanor Walker.
  • Brent Owens from Memphis, Tenn. is the assistant director of student activities. A 2006 Rhodes College graduate, Brent has worked in student affairs ever since. He is finishing the last year of coursework in his doctoral program in student affairs at University of Memphis. He plays Sam.

About Playwright's Theatre

An annual staged reading series, Playwright's Theatre evolved in 1999 from the annual Alumni and Student Playwriting Contests first sponsored by the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation in 1986. The program was designed to cultivate the skills of fledgling playwrights who are current or former Hendrix students. A professional playwright judges the competitions, one for students and the other for alumni. Founded by theatre professors Danny Grace and Dr. Rosemary E. Henenberg, Playwright's Theatre extends the efforts of the contest by enabling winners of the alumni contest to see their plays in staged readings that often involve both alumni and students as cast and production crew.

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. Hendrix was named the country's #1 "Up and Coming" liberal arts college for the third consecutive year by U.S. News and World Report. Hendrix is featured in the 2011 edition of the Princeton Review as one of the country's best 376 colleges and is listed in the 2012 edition of the Fiske Guide to Colleges as one of 25 "Best Buy" private colleges included. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit