Playwright’s Theatre Brings Alumni Back to School

Gordon Bolar

CONWAY, Ark. (September 3, 2013) – When Gordon Bolar was a Hendrix student he discovered a passage in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon.

“Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forgetfalls drop by drop upon the heartuntil, in our own despair, against our will,comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

The passage was cited by Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 on the evening after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, who Bolar was researching for a class paper.

Forty years later, the austere beauty of Aeschylus’ lines would offer “a measure of comfort” to Bolar.

“The year after my son was killed in action in Iraq, I heard the same passage cited in an NPR program about the life of Robert F. Kennedy,” said Bolar, who graduated from Hendrix in 1970. “When I heard this moving passage again, I knew immediately that it would serve as the spine for the play I wanted to write about the grieving family of a soldier, also killed in action.”

The quote is now on the title page of Bolar’s play Docksology, which will be read at Hendrix on Friday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. in Cabe Theatre.

Docksology is part of this year’s Playwright’s Theatre, which produces dramatic readings of new plays by current or former Hendrix students. Playwright’s Theatre is co-sponsored by the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation for Literature and Language and the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance.

Now the general manager of WMUK Public Radio at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mich., Bolar looks forward to being back at Hendrix.

"I'm absolutely thrilled to be returning to Hendrix to see my play read,” he said. “A bonus, of course, will be seeing some of my classmates on stage reading the script.”

This year’s Playwright’s Theatre cast of Hendrix alumni includes:

  • Brett Carr ’10
  • Bobby Courtway ’79
  • Judy Baker Goss ’70
  • Allison McLemore ’03
  • Mike Mueller ’88
  • James Mainard O’Connell ’03
  • Tommy Sanders ’76
  • Buddy Villines ’69

“I am grateful for this wonderful opportunity to learn as a writer and to better my script. My goal of course is to see Docksology on stage in a full production someday,” Bolar said. “I believe this reading can be a step in that direction."

“My Hendrix education encouraged me to seek a broader perspective in history and in the world around me for works of literature and art I encountered in the classroom. Through the years I have come to look on that quote from Agamemnon as something more than literature,” he said.

“After I visit the grave of my son in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery, I sometimes travel up the hill to Robert F. Kennedy’s grave. The quote by Aeschylus is beside RFK’s tomb … There are days when it serves as a compass. There are days when it serves as something akin to body armor. Every day it seems a treasure from fifth century B.C. that I have been allowed to unearth, carry with me and use in the modern world."

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the fifth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country’s “Up and Coming” liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report. Hendrix is featured in the 2012 edition of the Princeton Review as one of the country’s best 377 colleges, the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, Forbes magazine's annual list of America's Top 650 Colleges, and the 2013 edition of the Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.