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, 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

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


REVIEW: Bonstelle offers holiday treat for kids

Reviewed by Robert Delaney, The Detroit New Monitor

Kai (Nicholas Yocum) and The Snow Queen (Mackenzie Conn).

Kai (Nicholas Yocum) and The Snow Queen (Mackenzie Conn).

Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale, “The Snow Queen,” makes a delightful stage play for children in the adaptation by Tyler J. Monroe now being offered at Wayne State University’s Bonstelle Theatre in Midtown Detroit. This is not only high-quality children’s theatre, but perhaps the most technically impressive show I have ever seen on the Bonstelle stage. There are some pretty fancy special effects here, ones I wouldn’t have guessed the Bonstelle could pull off. And there is an interactive aspect to the show that begins with pre-show activities for kids 45 minutes before the opening curtain. Working with WSU undergraduate actors and technical staff, visiting director Allegra Libonati has recreated the production she did last year with the American Repertory Theatre of Cambridge, Mass., where she is the resident director. Children will delight to the story of the young girl, Gerda’s (Kristin Dawn-Dumas) efforts to rescue her friend Kai (Nicholas Yocum) from the Snow Queen, Mackenzie Conn (shown at right). And they will also be fascinated by the antics of the Goblin (Zyle Christian-Cook) and the many other characters in this splendid story by the author of “The Little Mermaid” and “The Ugly Duckling.” Anyone who has seen Conn in any of her other WSU roles can easily imagine that she makes a strikingly beautiful Snow Queen. No praise would be too high for the work of all the behind-the-scenes contributors to the show’s success, notably scenic designer/technical director Fred Florkowski, costume designer Mary Copenhagen, lighting designer Samuel G. Byers and sound designer Ryan Koprince. Director Libonati has said, “If families can be swept away in this fairytale, go on a journey together, and be inspired by the strength of a little girl alone in the North Pole, that would be a wonderful thing.” Indeed, this production of “The Snow Queen” is truly a wonderful thing. “The Snow Queen” continues this weekend, through December 9, with performances at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and at 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon (pre-show activities begin at 7:15 p.m. or 1:15 p.m., at the Bonstelle Theatre, 3424 Woodward Avenue, a block south of Mack and just a few blocks south of Orchestra Hall. For ticket information, call the WSU Theatre box office at

(313) 577-2960 or go to

Or join the Facebook Event!


Broken Glass: “Outstanding” Review from The New Monitor

Give it up for the Cast and Crew of Broken Glass who have a received an “Outstanding” review from The New Monitor.

Broken Glass - WSU Studio Theatre, Detroit

Michael Gingerella (Philip Gellburg) and Tiaja Sabrie (Sylvia Gellburg)
Photo: Felix Li

“Director Bilha Birman-Rivlin, a WSU doctoral candidate, has worked with and unusually accomplished undergraduate cast to give us a remarkably impressive production of this lat Miller play.”

– Robert Delaney

Make sure you catch one of the final TWO performances: October 26 and 27 at 8:00 p.m.

For more information check out the Facebook event and our website.

PRESS RELEASE: Arabian Nights

The Bonstelle Theatre Announces Arabian Nights by Mary Zimmerman to Replace Playboy of the West Indies for the 2012-2013 Season

Arabian Nights - The Bonstelle Theatre, Detroit MI

The Bonstelle Theatre has added Arabian Nights to its 62nd Season!
February 8, 2013 – February 17, 2013


DETROIT – The Bonstelle Theatre announces the addition of Arabian Nights to replace Playboy of the West Indies in its 2012-2013 season, running for a limited engagement from February 8 through 17, 2013. Mary Zimmerman, the Tony Award-winning director, revitalizes an age-old story of a young maiden who must captivate her husband with spellbinding narratives in order to prevent him from executing her. Tickets are $12-$15 and are available by calling (313) 577-2960, by visiting, or by visiting the Wayne State University Theatres’ Box Office located at 4743 Cass Avenue on the corner of Hancock.

Mary Zimmerman is the renowned director and playwright behind such plays as Journey to the West, Metamorphoses, Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, Secret in the Wings, and Argonautika. She is a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship in 1998, as well as the winner of a Tony Award for Best Direction in 2002 for her work on Metamorphoses. Her adaptation of Arabian Nights was completed in 1992 and won her a nomination in 1994 for a Drama Desk Award (Outstanding Director of a Play).

The play is directed by Jennifer Goff, a PhD candidate who most recently directed Trouble in Mind and Savage in Limbo at the Studio Theatre, and is making her debut at the Bonstelle Theatre. She expresses her excitement for the play in saying: “Mary Zimmerman’s Arabian Nights is a gorgeous, magical tale about the power of stories to entertain, to heal, and generally to awaken what’s most human in each of us. It’s the kind of play I’m so excited to be doing here and now, because it really is a celebration of diverse cultures and peoples, and how much more we have in common than we may think.”

The cast includes (in alphabetical order)

Zyle Cook (Marcellus, MI) as Butcher, Rahbi Hammond (Troy, MI) as Jester, Ivy Haralson (Belleville, MI) as Perfect Love, Garret Harris (Royal Oak, MI) as Shop Assistant, Sharayah Johnson (Birch Run, MI) as Greengrocer, Derell Jones (Detroit, MI) as Pastrycook, Alyssa Lucas (Garden City, MI) as Abu al-Hasan, Sydney Machesky  (Shelby Twp, MI) as Dunyazade, Jackson McLaskey (Mt. Clemens, MI) as Sheikh, Michael Meike (Clinton Twp, MI) as Wazir, Yesmeen Mikhail (Wyandotte, MI) as Scheherazade, Taylor Morrow (Warren, MI) as Slave Girl, Laith Salim (Dearborn, MI) as Harun al-Rashid, Nicholas Yocum (Royal Oak, MI) as Madman, and Lisa Youngs (Wyandotte, MI) as Sympathy.

About the Bonstelle Theatre

The Bonstelle Theatre is a Broadway-style house with a 1,143-seat auditorium featuring a balcony. Here, future stars of theatre, film, and television follow in the footsteps of such successful alumni as 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 (313) 577-2960 or visit

Season sponsored by CBS Outdoor, Between the Lines, and Encore Michigan.

REVIEW: The Bonstelle opens its fall season with a real witch story, ‘The Crucible’

Reviewed by: Patty Nolan

The Crucible - Bonstelle Theatre, Wayne State University, Detroit

Click HERE to read the review on the Examiner website!


Halloween is a great time for spooky stories about ghosts, haunted houses, witches and goblins.

But the Bonstelle Theatre has opened its new season with a real witch story – the Tony Award-winning play “The Crucible” by world-renowned playwright Arthur Miller.

With this important American play, Miller used the hysteria surrounding the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials to draw analogies to the McCarthy-era trials in which people accused of being communists were forced to name colleagues or risk being black balled, having their careers destroyed, and is some cases, losing their personal freedom.

Miller’s classic play explores how the pious citizens of 1692 Salem were predisposed to believe that it was Satan himself who, using agents in the community, caused their babies to die, their crops to wilt, their hearts to lust, and their children to laugh in church. And when the paranoid Reverend Parris catches his niece Abigail Williams and several other young girls dancing around a fire in the woods, he is all too willing to believe Abigail’s accusations that members of the community have put them under a spell.

This Bonstelle production is brilliantly directed by Lavinia Hart, who opens the play with an eerie look at the voodoo ritual being practiced by the young women in the village. The physical presence of evil is treated seriously, with the use of magical lighting and foreboding sound design, to orient the audience to the mindset of 17th Century Massachusetts.

Abigail quickly uses her new-found power to whip the community into a frenzy of mass-hysteria. Over time, as good people are brought to trial and executed without due process, those in charge become less willing to admit that they’ve been duped. And so, to prove that Satan walks in their midst, the courts require the accused to name fellow Satan worshipers, or face public execution. Quickly, it is the most devout people in the community who are imprisoned and executed, because they refuse to confess to the court’s lie, even to save their own necks. Ironically, at the end of the play, those who are unscathed by the witch trials are the most guilty.

Director Lavinia Hart comments, “In the face of corruption, we discover the distance some will be required to go in order to meet their responsibility to family, friends and society.”

Although it is easy for modern audiences to smugly condemn the superstitious residents of Salem, Miller clearly understood the real and present danger. As long as it is possible for mobs of frightened, paranoid people to blame someone else for their suffering, witch hunts will continue.

As we reach the final weeks of an especially ugly election year, we would all do well to treat smear campaigns with skepticism. Both political parties would have us believe that the other candidate is evil incarnate. But history shows us that the real evil is ignorance, fear, paranoia, hysteria, greed, pride, and jealousy. Miller would urge vigilance against those daemons.

WSU’s young Bonstelle Theatre ensemble brought a compelling performance to this difficult material. Mackenzie Conn was delightfully wicked as Abigail Williams; Colin Mallory struck the right balance of obsequious paranoia and self-righteousness as Rev. Parris; Jackson McLaskey was strong and empathetic as John Proctor; Nicholas Yocum, as Reverend Hale, takes us on an authentic spiritual journey as he realizes that the people he condemned on Abigail’s say-so are innocent; and Ivy Haralson brought lovely authenticity to the role of Barbados slave Tituba.

The cast also includes: Jacqueline Fenton (Allen Park, MI) as Susanna Walcott, Daniel Finn (Armada, MI) as Ezekiel Cheever, Jordan Fritz (River Rouge, MI) as Giles Corey, Amber Gale (Detroit, MI) as Girl 1, Robert J. Hammond (Troy, MI) as Willard, Shannon Hurst (Warren, MI) as Girl 4, Sharayah Johnson (Birch Run, MI) as Ann Putnam, Sara Kline (Royal Oak, MI) as Rebecca Nurse, Kelly Klopocinski (Sterling Heights, MI) as Elizabeth Proctor, Alyssa Lucas (Garden City, MI) as Mercy Lewis, Jackson McLaskey (Mt Clemens, MI) as John Proctor, Michael Meike (Clinton Twp) as Judge Danforth, Matthew Miazgowicz (Dearborn, MI) as Thomas Putnam, Yesmeen Mikhail (Wyandotte, MI) as Sarah Good, Malvina Mirowski (Sterling Heights, MI) as Betty Parris, Hope Morawa (Lincoln Park, MI) as Girl 3, Bryauna Perkins (Chesterfield, MI) as Hopkins and Girl 2, Aeisha Reese (Flint, MI) as Mary Warren, Laith Salim (Dearborn, MI) as Francis Nurse, Stuart Sturton (Dexter, MI) as Judge Hathorne, and The production team includes:

Director Lavinia Hart is supported by: Nicholas Boyd (Stage Manager), Anthony Karpinski (Scenic Designer), Fred Florkowski (Technical Director), Donna Buckley (Costume Designer), Gabriel Rice (Lighting Designer), Michael C. Thomas (Sound Designer), Cheryl Turski (Movement Coach), and Patrick Pozezinski (Publicity Manager).

The Crucible” runs at the Bonstelle Theatre for two weekends only, closing Sunday October 21. Curtain time is at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, at 2 p.m. on Sundays. There will be a special morning performance on Thursday, October 18 at 10 a.m. Tickets are $12 – $15 and are available by calling the box office at 313-577-2960, visiting the Bonstelle website, or purchasing tickets at the Hilberry Theatre box office, located at 4743 Cass Avenue, at the corner of Hancock.

Stage combat workshop photos

Wayne State University BFA actors learned to choreograph and execute fights without injury during an intense two-week stage combat workshop. Guest artist, Jay Burckhardt of Chicago’s The Fight Factory was brought in by the department to give the actors a unique opportunity to participate in a rigorous intensive that allowed them to explore a variety of fight styles, forms and techniques that regularly appear on the stage. Below is a series of photos from the workshop that portray the BFA actors learning basic fight techniques.

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Another year, another selection of content from Youtube

Now, we’ve all done it. Googled a word and stared in amazement as the results coming piling in.

This time, we searched the terms “hilberry, bonstelle and Wayne State Theatre.”

Here is a collection of the amazingness we found:

and finally, how adorable is this?: