Ark. (September 5, 2018) – An award-winning new play will debut in a staged
reading in early September at Hendrix College in Conway. The reading is part of
the annual Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Playwright’s Theatre, during which Hendrix
alumni and students will present the play.
The reading of Had Orion
Loved by Brian Earles ’18, winner of the 2018 Hendrix-Murphy Student
Playwriting Contest, will be presented on
Friday, September 7, at 7 p.m. in Cabe Theatre on the Hendrix College campus.
The event is free and open to the public, with no tickets or reservations required.
An audience discussion and a reception in Mills Lobby will follow the reading.
The play is about what
happens to “Leo and Soandso while on a weekend escape to a bed and breakfast
when they find themselves trapped after an unexpected tornado devastates the
town.” Sofya Weitz, this year’s playwriting judge, says that “the framing
device of the tornado, Soandso’s childhood stories, and his relationship with
his mother and Leo worked well in this high-pressure situation.”
Earles majored in Theatre Arts with
a minor in Dance. He enjoys expressing the multiple facets of artistic
creativity through choreography, dancing, acting, and writing and asserts that
he is a storyteller, first and foremost.
Hendrix alumni, students, and staff will be involved in all other
aspects of the production as well. Mike Mueller ’88 of Little Rock will direct
The cast is led by Peter Grant ’21, reading the part of Soandso,
and Jackson Sims ’21 reading the part of Leo. The cast will also include Elizabeth
Williams Whitsett ’13 as Janette/Reporter 1, Philip Adams ’04 as Kevin/Reporter
2, and Deedra Everett Ashcraft ’86 as Deborah/Gale.
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. Playwright’s Theatre, founded by Professor Danny Grace and
Dr. Rosemary E. Henenberg, Willis H. Holmes Distinguished Professor of Theatre
Arts, Emerita, 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.
This reading is co-sponsored by the Hendrix College Department of
Theatre Arts and Dance and the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature
and Language, which are designed to enhance and enrich the study and teaching
of literature and language at Hendrix College. For more information about this
and future events, contact Henryetta Vanaman, 501-450-4597 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following are brief bios of the
alumni cast and crew members:
Jackson Sims ’21 began acting during the
Arkansas Shakespeare Festival in 2013 and continued throughout his four years
of high school at Little Rock Central High. During his freshman year at Hendrix
College, Jackson acted in the plays Uncle
Vanya, Wet, and This Random World. Jackson plans to act throughout
his Hendrix career.
Deedra Everett ’86 graduated from Hendrix with a
degree in Theatre and is now an employee of J.B. Hunt. Deedra notes that life’s
path has led her away from the spotlight for many years, but she uses her
costuming skills to keep her kids outfitted in the coolest Halloween costumes
and is the reigning Ugly Christmas Sweater Champion at J.B. Hunt headquarters. Had Orion Loved will be Deedra’s
post-college theatrical debut.
Philip Adams ’04 was born in Arkansas and has
lived in Arkansas for most of his life. Philip majored in Spanish with a minor
in Theatre Arts and is now the Project Director for the PROMISE Model
Demonstration Project at the University of Arkansas. Philip has worked both
backstage (New York Fashion Week, MTV Films, American Idol, Larry King
Live, and 60 Minutes) and on stage
in TV and film.
Peter Grant ’21 is a Conway native and
graduated from Conway High School in 2017. His first role was as John Tomas in The Curious Savage in 2004, in which he
had no lines. Nevertheless, Peter has continued to act in various productions,
including Wet at Hendrix College in
Mike Mueller ’88 was born and raised in Chicago.
Now located in Little Rock, Mike is a Strategist and Business Developer for the
Clix Group. Mike spent 10 years as a high school theatre teacher and has had
many theatrical roles spanning some 30 years. Mike has participated in eight
Playwright’s Theatre productions at Hendrix College, including the inaugural
Elizabeth Williams Whitsett ’13 graduated from Hendrix with
a degree in Theatre Arts. Elizabeth is now the Youth STEM Specialist at Hillary
Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center. For several years,
Elizabeth has been on the board of directors for the Community Arts Association
of Conway, also known as the Lantern Theatre. Elizabeth has participated in
many roles, on and off stage, at the Lantern Theatre. In her most recent
challenge to herself, Elizabeth has become a member of the fresh meat group
with Rock Town Roller Derby in Little Rock, Ark.