What Happens to a Dream Deferred?


A Raisin in the Sun follows the Younger family—Walter, Ruth, their son Travis, and Walter’s mother Lena and sister Beneatha—as they struggle to retain their dignity and realize the American dream.

The family lives in a run-down two bedroom apartment on Chicago’s South Side, and Lena plans to use her recently-deceased husband’s life insurance money to move the family to a house in a nicer part of town. Walter and Beneatha have their own ideas about what to do with the money: Walter wants to invest it in a liquor store while Beneatha wants to use it to pay for medical school. Lena takes a portion of the money to provide the down payment on a house and gives the rest to Walter to invest and put towards Beneatha’s education. When Walter loses the money to an unscrupulous business partner, the family is left with nothing but their new home—which is in an all-white neighborhood. When a representative of the neighborhood association arrives and offers to buy them out, the Youngers must decide whether they will defer their dream for money or move into the house regardless of the resulting racial tension.

A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway in 1959 and was the first play on Broadway authored by an African-American woman, as well as the first Broadway play with an African-American director. Lorraine Hansberry drew on many of her own experiences as inspiration for the piece. Hansberry’s family moved into a house in an all-white neighborhood when she was young, and her father was part of a lawsuit regarding racially restrictive housing covenants that was argued before the Supreme Court in 1940.

The Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance will present A Raisin in the Sun at the Bonstelle Theatre February 12th – 21st, 2016. Please join us for this integral piece of the American dramatic canon. The theatre awaits!

Bruce Norris’ drama Clybourne Park, written in response to Raisin, will be produced at the Hilberry Theatre in February, March, and April of 2016. Read more about Clybourne Park here.


The Underground Theatre is Back for a Second Season: Who’s the Monster Now?!


DETROIT ​– The Underground Theatre will produce and showcase a month long theatre frenzy for a second summer season in the Studio Theatre. The theme for this season is entitled, “Who’s The Monster Now?!”. Each weekend in July will feature one of four exploratory works from the collaborative.

“Who’s The Monster Now?!” opens July 9 with Faustus adapted from Christopher Marlowe and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, followed by A Behanding in Spokane by Martin McDonagh, Gruesome Playground Injuries by Rajiv Joseph, and She Kills Monsters by Qui Nguyen. Each work creates a lively atmosphere and is recognized throughout the theatre community as darkly comedic dramas. Tackling themes such as the destructive influence of power in Faustus to the convergence of fantasy and reality with She Kills Monsters, these black comedies intend to spark emotion while inciting laughter.

The collaborative presenting this season is run by students from Wayne State University with the support of the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance. As The Underground Theatre reimagines the theatre experience, its vision encompasses fostering a deeper sense of community and creating a safe space to ask honest and important questions, while also looking to the audience as creative partners. Taking this into consideration, each production will feature a post-show discussion with the actors, cast, and crew immediately following the performance. These talks will cover themes and motifs of the plays as well as the creative process.

Kassy Skoretz, one of the founders of the collaborative, comments on the creation of The Underground Theatre, “We started The Underground in order to explore, experiment, and share the work that we love. Theatre is a vital and visceral art through which we ask questions about our reality. Making our own theatre has been so fulfilling and we’re excited to share that with audiences!”

Tickets start at $10 and all are encouraged to subscribe to the entire season for $38! To subscribe or purchase single tickets, call 313-577-2972, or visit the Wayne State University Theatre and Dance Box Office at 4743 Cass Avenue on the corner of Hancock. Tickets may also be purchased by visiting http://www.wsushows.com.

The Studio Theatre is an intimate, 110-seat, open-stage theatre in the lower level of the Hilberry Theatre on Wayne State University’s campus that is often used for experimental, student, and classroom productions. Annual programming includes the Student Stage and the Louise Heck-Rabi Dramatic Writing Competition. For nearly fifty years, the Studio Theatre has presented outstanding theatre featuring WSU undergraduate students.

A Boy, Some Bugs, and One Giant Peach

“Come right up close to me and I will show you something wonderful.”

British children’s author Roald Dahl wrote these words in his beloved novel James and the Giant Peach, published in 1961. This November, the Bonstelle Theatre will present David Wood’s theatrical adaptation of this delightful story.


James Trotter is a young orphan who lives with his cruel, neglectful aunts until he meets a strange old man who gives James a potion that is supposed to bring him grand adventures. When James accidentally spills the potion on a peach tree, it produces a single, enormous peach, complete with human-sized talking bugs living inside it. These invertebrates–a grasshopper, centipede, earthworm, spider, ladybug, silkworm, and glow-worm–invite James to live with them in the peach, and together they embark on a journey across the ocean. Along the way, James comes to love his unconventional but endearing new family.

James and the Giant Peach runs from November 13 – 22, 2015, and is also offered as a student matinee. We hope you come right up close and allow us to show you a wonderful time at the theatre.

Well that’s a terrible title


Why on earth would a play have the title Urinetown? Besides the obvious play on the words “You’re In Town,” we can see social satires pushing the boundaries of what is accepted to make a point all throughout history.

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Backstage of Urinetown

After a trip to Paris—in which he thought $300 could last a couple of weeks—turned into an exercise in endurance, Greg Kotis was inspired to write of a city where a monopolizing corporation controlled all the amenities in town. Teaming up with Mark Hollman, they came up with a script that went on to be produced at the NYC Fringe. This production turned into one of the most successful shows at the Festival, leading to a successful Broadway run that began in 2001 and ran until 2004—yielding ten Tony Award nominations and three wins. Interestingly, the only reason the show closed was because the Henry Miller Theatre was scheduled for the renovation that turned it into the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.

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Backstage of Urinetown

Having wanted to direct Urinetown since I saw it on Broadway, I am amazed at how pertinent Urinetown still is over a decade after it closed. Though many people pinhole the play as simply poking fun at other musicals, it reaches far beyond that. Yes, it pays homage to many notable plays throughout the musical theatre canon (look for jabs at Les Misérables, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, The Cradle Will Rock, Threepenny Opera, as well as the works of Jerry Herman and Kander & Ebb), but it is most successful at using the satirical form to make commentary on many social ills. Just as Saturday Night Live or The Daily Show comment on political and social issues, so does Urinetown. Themes of police violence, corporate influence on politics, and dissipating water due to drought can easily be imagined being spoken by John Stewart.

Hopefully, through the guise of laughter, we can raise social consciousness just a bit.

Michael J. Barnes

Three Exciting New Plays Featured in WSU’s Heck-Rabi Festival

The 2015 Louise Heck-Rabi Dramatic Writing Festival will take place February 26–28 at 8 p.m. and March 1 at 2 p.m. at the Studio Theatre, located underground at the Hilberry Theatre at the corner of Cass and Hancock on WSU’s campus. This year’s festival features new works from three promising playwrights who are best known as members of the acclaimed Hilberry acting ensemble.

The Louise Heck-Rabi Dramatic Writing Competition and Festival are both named for Louise Heck-Rabi who was a dedicated writer and member of the Detroit literary scene. She created the playwriting scholarship in hopes that young Detroit writers would carry on her passion. The Heck-Rabi Festival is a unique opportunity for emerging playwrights to have their work staged. The Festival is administered by the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance and the English Department and features winning finalists from the Writing Competition. This year’s winning plays were selected from six finalists, which were all presented as dramatic readings in the fall. Winning playwrights receive a scholarship and the opportunity to work with undergraduate directors, designers, and actors to realize their visions onstage at the Studio.

For tickets, call 313-577-2972, visit wsushows.com, or stop by the WSU box office located at the Hilberry Theatre, 4743 Cass Avenue, Detroit, at the corner of Cass and Hancock.

Dark Monday by Bevin Bell Hall (Nevada City, CA)
Directed by Kendall Talbot (Warren)
This dark comedy pays homage to the art of acting and many of its previous forms.

Featuring: Maggie Beson (Riverview); Ibrahim Karim (Baghdad, Iraq); Kate Martinez (Flat Rock); Graham Todd (Shelby Township)
Stage Manager: Shannon Hurst (Warren)

Good Girls by Sarah Hawkins Moan (North Manchester, IN)
Directed by Taylor Morrow (Warren)
Midlife crises are hard. Especially for a twenty-something whose mom is the one in crisis mode.

Featuring: Hanna Butcher (Taylor); Michaella Mallet (Byron); Donnevan Tolbert (Detroit); Danielle Wright (Lathrup Village)
Stage Manager: Madeline Schnorr (Marshall)

Wallpaper by Brandy Joe Plambeck (Ferndale, MI)
Directed by Carl Bentley (Flat Rock)
Based on the famous short story, The Yellow Wallpaper, a teenaged boy struggles to find his place in his changing family structure.

Featuring: Christianno DeRushia (Jackson); Malcom Harris (Chicago, IL), Clearie McCarthy (Lansing); Graham Todd (Shelby Township)
Stage Manager: Delaney O’Brien (Brighton)

Production team: Scenic Designer, Jon Pigott (Wyandotte); Costume Designers, Alyssa Gawel (Sterling Heights) and Anthony Toney (Sterling Heights); Lighting Designer, John Schmidt (Farmington Hills), Sound Designer, Valerie Frawley (Warren); Producer, Dan Finn (Armada); Production Stage Manager, Allison Baker (Bellefountaine, OH); Publicist, Kevin Replinger (Centennial, CO)

About the Studio Theatre

The Studio Theatre is an intimate, 110-seat, open-stage theatre in the lower level of the Hilberry Theatre on Wayne State University’s campus. it is often used for experimental, student, and classroom productions. Annual programming includes the Student Stage and the Louise Heck-Rabi Dramatic Writing Competition. For nearly fifty years the Studio Theatre has presented great theatre featuring WSU undergraduate students. With generous support from patrons and donors, the Studio Theatre underwent renovation in 2010. For box office hours and information on performances, tickets, and group discounts, please call the box office at (313) 577-2972 or visit the theatre’s website at www.wsustudio.com

About Wayne State University

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 370 academic–programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 29,000 students.

Calendar Information

February 26–28 at 8:00 PM
March 1 at 2:00 PM

August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Opens Next Friday, February 13.

Don’t miss August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning drama, Fences, opening next Friday and playing from February 13 through 22. Tickets are $15 – $20, with student rush tickets available for $10 on the day of the performance. To purchase tickets call 313-577-2960, by visit http://www.bonstelle.com, or stop by the Wayne State University Theatre Box Office located at 4743 Cass Ave. inside the Hilberry Theatre.

Fences New Monitor Ad

‘Fences’ Directed by Lynch Travis at the Bonstelle Theatre

DETROIT – The Bonstelle Theatre is excited to welcome local guest director Lynch Travis as its 2014-15 season continues with Fences, the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play by August Wilson. Playing February 13 – 22, 2015, Fences follows an African American father and his son as each struggle through unfulfilled hopes and shattered dreams in the 1950s. Travis is a Chicago-native who has resided in the Greater Detroit area for the past 28 years. Active in the Detroit theatre community as a director, actor, and coach, Travis’ work has been lauded through awards from the Ann Arbor News, Oakland Press, Detroit Free Press, and the Wilde Awards. Speaking of his engagement to direct, Travis states “It is certainly a privilege to direct August Wilson’s Fences. It is without question one of the best plays written in my lifetime, by a playwright that was able to tell stories from the African American experience that resonates with audiences no matter their background or ethnicity. We look forward to bringing you the story of a family caught in the dynamics of a changing world.”

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Kayla Mundy, Will Bryson, and Donnevan Tolbert in Fences.

Written in 1983, Fences is the sixth play in August Wilson’s ten-part “Pittsburgh Cycle” and explores the evolving African American experience while examining race relations during the 1950s. The story centers around Troy Maxon, a former Negro League baseball star who was excluded from the major leagues during his prime. Now a Pittsburgh garbage man, Troy harbors a lingering bitterness that threatens his relationships with his wife and his son, who wants his own chance to play ball.

Tickets are $15 – $20, with student rush tickets available for $10 on the day of the performance. Tickets are available for purchase by calling 313-577-2960, by visiting http://www.bonstelle.com, or by visiting the Wayne State University Theatre Box Office located at 4743 Cass Ave. on the corner of Hancock St.

The Cast (In Alphabetical Order)
Will Bryson – Highland Park, MI (Troy Maxson), Gerald Palmer – Rochester Hills, MI (Gabriel), Dante Jones – Detroit, MI (Bono), Demetrius Mahone – Detroit, MI (Lyons), Kayla Mundy – Detroit, MI (Rose Maxson), Donnevan Tolbert – Detroit, MI (Cory Maxson)

The Production Team
Lynch Travis (Director), Chista Tausney (Scenic Designer), Melissa Hall (Costume Designer), Patrick Field (Light Designer), April Thompson (Properties Master), Valerie Frawley (Sound Designer), Catelyn Girard (Stage Manager), Brian Dambacher (Technical Director), Amanda Schindler (Publicist), Jason Goldman (Assistant Publicist)

The Bonstelle Theatre
The Bonstelle Theatre is a Broadway-style house with a 1,034-seat auditorium featuring a balcony and much of the original Beaux-Arts architecture. The Theatre was built as Temple Beth-El in 1902 and converted to the Bonstelle Playhouse in 1922.

The Bonstelle Theatre Company includes BA and BFA actors, designers, and stage managers in the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne State University. Here, future stars of theatre, film, and television follow in the footsteps of successful alumni like Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning S. Epatha Merkerson (NBC’s Law and Order, Lackawanna Blues), Lily Tomlin (9 to 5, ABC’s Desperate Housewives), and Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, NBC’s Heroes).  For box office hours and information on performances, tickets, group discounts, and corporate packages, please call the box office at 313-577-2960 or visit the theatre’s website at http://www.bonstelle.com.

The Bonstelle Theatre, Where Wayne Plays.
Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to over 26,000 students.

Calendar Information

February 13 – February 22
Fri. 8:00 PM                        Feb. 13, Feb. 20
Sat. 2:00 PM                       Feb. 14, Feb. 21
Sat. 8:00 PM                       Feb. 14, Feb. 21
Sun. 3:00 PM                      Feb. 15, Feb. 22
Wed. 10:00 AM Feb. 18 (School matinee, contact 313-577-0852 for more information)
Thur. 10:00 AM Feb. 19 (School matinee, contact 313-577-0852 for more information)