An award-winning new play that focuses on a family as they gather to celebrate their first Memorial Day without a son killed in action the previous year 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 Docksology by Gordon Maxwell Bolar, winner of the 2013 Hendrix-Murphy Alumni Playwriting Contest, will be presented on Friday, September 13, at 7:00 p.m. in Cabe Theatre on the Hendrix College campus. The event is open to the public and free of admission. No tickets or reservations are required. The reading will be followed by a discussion and reception.
Docksology centers around the Bentley family, gathered at the eldest brother’s lakeside cottage in northern Michigan to celebrate Memorial Day—a day that will be keenly felt, with the younger brother’s son having died the previous fall in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb exploded his convoy jeep. This play was inspired by the life and the death of Bolar’s son Matthew, who was killed in action in Iraq in 2007.
Bolar graduated from Hendrix in 1970 and returned to teach in the Theatre Arts department in 1972. He has also taught at Lyon College and at the University of Rhode Island. Currently he serves as General Manager of Public Radio station WMUK in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He has also served as Development Director for Public Television and Public Radio stations in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Anchorage, Alaska. He holds a Ph.D. in theatre from Louisiana State University and an M.F.A. in directing from Ohio University. He has reviewed plays for two decades for local newspapers and has written two produced plays, as well as a radio script, Critic and Wife (produced and broadcast in Kalamazoo in 2012). Docksology is Bolar’s fifth play.
Hendrix alumni, students, and staff will be involved in all other aspects of the production as well. Bobby Engeler-Young of Conway will direct the reading. Buddy Villines, Judy Baker Goss, Tommy Sanders, Mike Mueller, and James Mainard O’Connell, all of Little Rock, will read roles in the play, as will Brett Carr and Robert Courtway, both of Conway. Allison McLemore Stratton of New York City will also read, along with Robert Durante, a current student at Hendrix.
This event is co-sponsored by the Hendrix College Department of Theatre Arts and Dance.The reading will be followed by an audience discussion and a reception in Mills Lobby.
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.
Following are brief descriptions of the backgrounds of the cast and crew members.
Bobby Engeler-Young is a Mountain Home native and Hendrix 1993 theatre arts graduate. He recently celebrated his 15th anniversary of working at Hendrix, where he has had a breadth of opportunities, including teaching Theatre Production I in 2004 and Drama at Arkansas Governor’s School in 2003 and 2004. He was heavily involved in the early years of the Hendrix Dance program. Currently, Bobby’s professional theatre work is “stage managing” the use and support of multimedia and presentational technologies across the growing campus of Hendrix College.
Buddy Villines is a graduate of Hendrix (1969) and University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law. He served in Vietnam in 1970 and 1971 and received the Bronze Star. Currently serving as Pulaski County Judge since 1990, he previously served six years on the Little Rock Board of Directors as Director, Vice-Mayor, and Mayor. As the Chief Executive of Pulaski County, he is responsible for the administration of services for 382,748 citizens. He has served and currently serves and chairs a variety of groups and committees, including, The Downtown Partnership, Pulaski County Prevention Institute and National Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations.
Judy Baker Goss graduated with honors and a theatre arts degree from Hendrix in 1970. She has led creative dramatics as an artist-in-education and directed community plays, before teaching full-time at Parkview Arts/ Science Magnet High School in Little Rock. She has won prizes in the Arkansas Literary Society WORDS contests, and she received an Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship in playwriting. She has participated in Sewanee Writers’ Conference playwrights’ workshops three times. Her scripts have had staged readings, and First Farewell was produced at Argenta Community Theater in 2011.
Tommy Sanders graduated from Hendrix in 1976. During his Hendrix career he participated in Hendrix Player’s theatre productions as both an actor and a stage manager. He has also acted in plays at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, including The Knack and Suddenly Last Summer, in addition to several readers theatre projects at the Arkansas Rep and past productions of Playwright’s Theatre at Hendrix. He has worked for twenty-four years as an on-camera host for ESPN, been in thousands of radio and television commercials, written for hundreds of television projects and acted in
numerous industrial and educational films. He has also acted in three motion pictures.
Brett Carr is a 2010 Hendrix graduate with a theatre arts degree and a minor in politics. Currently he is the Assistant Director of Admission for Hendrix College. While a Hendrix student, Carr was a part of the Burn Out Macbeth team that went to the Fringe Festival in Scotland. In 2009 he won the student playwriting contest for The Adventures of Ordinary Man, or Something Completely Different. He was also a two-time Ella M. Shanks Memorial Endowed Scholarship recipient.
Allison McLemore Stratton, originally from Little Rock, graduated from Hendrix as double major in theatre arts and psychology in 2003. After completing her M.F.A. at Ohio University she moved to New York City where she is now a freelance actor. In addition to narrating audiobooks and traveling across the country as an actor, she has stared in Off Broadway plays and in regional theatre productions, as well as films.
Robert Durante is a senior at Hendrix, majoring in theatre arts and minoring in psychology. He is from Kingwood,Texas.
Robert (Bobby) Courtway graduated from Hendrix in 1979 with a theatre degree. Currently a Security Analyst for Arkansas Department of Information Systems, he has been a weather forecaster for the U.S. Air Force and was a member of the Arkansas National Guard. He is an Iraq war veteran, has had two tours of duty in Korea, and has been previously deployed to Haiti.
Mike Mueller, a 1988 Hendrix graduate as a humanities major with an emphasis in theatre arts, has a Master’s of Secondary Education from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and has taught acting and technical theatre at the high school level for ten years, including two years for Arkansas Governor’s School. He has directed a number of plays and continues to act in commercials and films. He is co-founder of Bourbon & Boots (bourbonandboots.com <http://bourbonandboots.com/> ), an online emporium of Southern gifts, stories, and style.
James Mainard O’Connell graduated from Hendrix in 2003 as a theatre major, later earning an M.F.A in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature in Performance at Mary Baldwin College. Currently he teaches speech and drama at the Episcopal Collegiate School in Little Rock and also serves as their Theatre Program Director. He has been actor and director in numerous productions, from New Jersey’s New Player’s Company to Peterborough Players in New Hampshire, and owned a touring theatre company, Golden Duck Productions. He is a past winner of the Hendrix-Murphy Playwriting Contest and is currently performing in South Pacific at Murry’s Dinner Theatre.
This reading is 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, please contact Henryetta Vanaman, 501-450-4597 or email@example.com.