The Northern Michigan University Department of Theatre and Dance will present the world premiere of A Complicated Hope by John Mabey of Atlanta, winner of NMU's 2021 Panowski Playwriting Award. Show times are 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 8 through Saturday, June 11, and 2 p.m. Sunday, June 12. A sensory-friendly Theatre for All performance will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday.
The play features Marie and her daughter, Rose Marie, who are left adrift after their husband/father, Michael, passes away. But it's how he leaves that alters the lives of the family forever. Arnie, Michael's boyfriend, yearns to heal those who've been hurt and unexpectedly discovers a family of his own. Mirroring the erratic path of grief itself, A Complicated Hope flashes between the moments in time that changed them all. Their journeys explore the challenges of both finding a family of choice and letting yourself be found.
Mabey's plays have been published and produced in the United States, Europe and Australia. As a certified mental health counselor, they infuse everything they've learned about emotion and relationships into their writing. Mabey is a published author on the topics of sexual identity and spirituality in academic books and journals, and his work was included in Smith & Kraus Best 10-Minute Plays 2021 and Smith & Kraus Best Women's Monologues 2021. Mabey also enjoys teaching and performing improvised comedy and true storytelling around the world.
A playwriting award was established in 1977 by NMU's Forest Roberts Theatre. Former FRT Director James Panowski later became the sole benefactor of the competition, providing financial assistance to name the award in memory of his parents, Albert and Mildred Panowski.
The award is designed to encourage and stimulate artistic growth among educational and professional playwrights. It provides students and faculty the unique opportunity to mount and produce an original work on the university stage. The playwright also benefits from seeing the work presented to an audience and from professional adjudication by guest critics.
Tickets are $17 for the general public; $12 for military, seniors and NMU faculty/staff; $10 for students 18 and under; and $5 for NMU students. They can be purchased at nmu.universitytickets.com/. Find more information on NMU's Department of Theatre and Dance here.