Wayne State University\'s Departments of English and Theatre Present The Ninth Annual Louise Heck-Rabi Scholarship Playwriting Finalists

February 12, 2009

Wayne State University's Studio Theatre

Dog-Girl Suicide: (From left to right) Natalie Burtney as "Magda" and Jessica Green as "Maria."

The Kings of Unionville: (From left to right) Benjamin Williams as "Hoagie," Justin Wagner as "Will" and Shane Reinhard as "Ed."

Help Wanted: (From left to right) Chuck Reynolds as "George Streeter," Dave Cowan as "Billy Monroe" (back row), Christopher L. Tucker as "Simon Jones" and Katie Leitz Flannery as "Mary Streeter."

Heck-Rabi performance breakdown:
February 26-28 and March 5-7:

Thursday - 8 p.m.
Friday - 8 p.m.
Saturday - 8 p.m.

At 8 p.m. on February 26-28 and March 5-7, plays by the winners of the Louise Heck-Rabi Dramatic Writing Competition will be performed at Wayne State University's Studio Theatre. Admission to the plays is free thanks to the sponsorship of the Departments of English and Theatre, and the Louise Heck-Rabi Endowed Scholarship in Dramatic Writing. The three, original, student-written plays, Dog Girl Suicide, Help Wanted and The Kings of Unionville, will be produced and performed by all-student casts and technical crews. For more information, please call the Wayne State University Theatre Box Office at (313) 577-2972.

To enter the competition, students submit work in late May to be judged by members of the English and Theatre Departments. Five finalists are chosen to participate in a staged reading workshop at the beginning of the school year. From there, three finalists are chosen for production.

This year's plays are very different from each other, yet each embraces themes of choice, consequence, revelation and redemption.

Dog Girl Suicide, by Lauren Reynolds, directed by Steve West, is a play about two sisters. The sisters, Magda (played by Natalie Burtney), and Maria (played by Jessica Green), seemingly have nothing in common except for a shared living space. When small talk turns existential, the sisters' buried past is unearthed, forever changing the chemistry of their codependence.

Help Wanted, by Dylan Stuckey, directed by Lavell Neal, introduces the audience to the provincial lives of a couple in a depression-era, small town who are looking to hire someone to help with the convenience store they own. Billy Monroe, played by Dave Cowan, is a young man inquiring about a "Help Wanted" sign on the store door. The inquiry sparks a chain of events that leave Monroe, the couple (Mary Streeter, played by Katie Leitz Flannery, and George Streeter, played by Charles Reynolds), and their friend Simon Jones (played by Christopher L. Tucker), with much more than the help they wanted.

The Kings of Unionville, by James Kuhl, directed by Dave Woitulewitz, profiles a basement-dwelling, card-playing secret society looking to recruit a new member. Will, the son of the group's historian, played by Justin Wagner, is a prospect for admission, but he must first try to make sense of the group, its importance to his father and, most importantly, himself.

The cast includes Shane Reinhard as Ed, Bill Zimmerman as Lloyd, Benjamin Williams as Hoagie, E.J. Assi as Guvy, and Andrew Sheldon as Leroy.

The student playwrighting competition is in honor of Louise Heck-Rabi, who was a member of the Poetry Society of Michigan and founder of Downriver Poets and Playwrights. Some of her writings include Women Filmmakers: A Critical Reception and Rock the World, a one-act comedy that was performed Off-Off Broadway in 1973. Heck-Rabi was also a devoted librarian and assistant professor at Wayne State University. As a writer and teacher, Heck-Rabi was interested in encouraging her students to produce original work.

The Studio Theatre is located downstairs from the Hilberry Theatre at 4743 Cass Avenue, at the corner of Cass and Hancock. All three plays are performed each night at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 26-28 and March 5-7. Admission to the Heck-Rabi shows is Free for everyone. For more information, please call the Wayne State University Theatre Box Office at (313) 577-2972.

Season sponsored by CBS Outdoor, Between The Lines, Encore Michigan, and the Times Herald newspapers.

Photo credits: Jillian Zylinski