When Michigan State University’s Department of Theatre announced a call for emerging playwrights of the global majority to write a new play for its diverse cohort of Master of Fine Arts Acting and Design candidates, they received more than 300 submissions.
That call, which went out in summer 2022, has led to the creation of Stevie and the Real World, an original work that the department will present Feb. 9-11 and 14-18 at the Fairchild Theatre in the MSU Auditorium.
From the more than 300 submissions received, the MFA students selected playwright Iraisa Ann Reilly to write the new play. A writer, performer, and educator from New Jersey who is half Cuban and half Irish, Reilly has an MFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University and a B.A. in Theatre and English from the University of Notre Dame. Her screenplay, La Reina del Bronx, won best screenplay at the Fusion Film Festival and was a semifinalist for the Vail Screenwriting Competition.
For more than a year, Reilly and the actors met each month to discuss themes, issues, and stories of interest to them, which led to the creation of Stevie and the Real World, a play full of humor, wonder, and puppets.
“Iraisa Ann was very experimental and open to new ideas based on our personalities, preferences, and the general vibe of our cohort. There is a bit of each of us as individuals in the characters she created.”Mona Eldahshoury, MFA Acting Candidate
“I was very much writing an original play but also the inception of the project was collaborative,” Reilly said. “The MFA students had both specific and loose ideas of what they wanted this project to be — funny, non-linear, non-realistic. Writing for specific actors, I wanted to create something they would be excited to work on, while making sure my voice came through in the story.”
Stevie and the Real World is a comedic play with puppets that remembers when “the real world” was just a show on MTV. It tells the story of a group of friends who meet for an unorthodox college reunion at the lake house where they spent a weekend retreat in 2008. Summoned by the one member of the group they left behind, they go to the depths of the earth to find Stevie and bring them home. But what is home? And how far can you travel in time without walking out again?
“The show is about bringing a group of very different people together to find commonality and camaraderie,” said MFA Acting Candidate Mona Eldahshoury who plays Francesca. “Iraisa Ann was very experimental and open to new ideas based on our personalities, preferences, and the general vibe of our cohort. There is a bit of each of us as individuals in the characters she created. I feel close to the text and the character on a personal level. As a future academic, practitioner, and performer, the process has been very fulfilling.”
Katherine Clemons, MFA Acting Candidate who plays the role of Athena, echoed Eldahshoury, saying, “It’s really a unique show that I think everyone is going to love, and I’m so thankful to perform it with some of my favorite people. It’s our capstone and our goodbye to three amazing years as Spartans. I know I’ll be crying during the final bow.”
“It’s really a unique show that I think everyone is going to love, and I’m so thankful to perform it with some of my favorite people. It’s our capstone and our goodbye to three amazing years as Spartans.”Katherine Clemons, MFA Acting Candidate
The MFA Acting Candidates include Clemons, Eldahshoury, Christopher Eastland, Stefon Funderburke, Ural Grant, Kim Seabright Martin, Jacob Theo Squire, and Oscar Quiroz.
Tickets for Stevie and the Real World are on sale now and can be purchased at WhartonCenter.com, by calling 1-800-WHARTON, or in person at the Wharton Center ticketing office.
- Friday, Feb. 9, at 8 p.m.
- Saturday, Feb. 10, at 8 p.m.
- Sunday, Feb. 11, at 2 p.m.
- Wednesday, Feb. 14, at 7:30 p.m.
- Thursday, Feb. 15, at 7:30 p.m.
- Friday, Feb. 16, at 8 p.m.
- Saturday, Feb. 17, at 2 p.m.
- Saturday, Feb. 17, at 8 p.m.
- Sunday, Feb. 18, at 2 p.m.
- General Admission – $20
- Seniors and Faculty – $15
- Students – $10
Tickets can be picked up on the Farm Lane side of the MSU Auditorium the day of the show. Doors will open 30 minutes prior to the show time and close 5 minutes after to prevent any disruption to the ongoing performance.
For more information on Stevie and the Real World and other MSU productions, visit: https://www.whartoncenter.com/events/category/dept-of-theatre