Six Seconds in Charlack

Hotchner-winning play to debut April 28-May 1

For St. Louis commuters, the small inner-ring suburb of Charlack, Mo., passes in the blink of an eye, its borders marked by a pair of signs set only a few hundred yards apart along I-170.

Christena Doggrell in
Christena Doggrell as Candy in Brian Golden’s “Six Seconds in Charlack,” winner of the 2004 A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Competition. Copyright Eric Woolsey 2005. All Rights Reserved.

Yet as Brian Golden’s Six Seconds in Charlack reminds us, sometimes an instant is enough to change a life.

The drama — winner of Washington University’s 2004 A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Competition — will be presented by the Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences (PAD) April 28 to May 1 in the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre.

Performances begin at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 28, 29 and 30; and at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 30 and May 1. The Hotchner Studio is located in the Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

Tickets are $12 — $8 for students, senior citizens and Washington University faculty and staff — and are available through the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543, and all MetroTix outlets. For more information, call (314) 935-6543.

Six Seconds in Charlack focuses on Bard (junior Chauncy Thomas), a lapsed writer who has quit the local newspaper, and his girlfriend Penny (sophomore Lauren Dusek), a nurse who has encouraged Bard to join her father’s law firm. Yet Bard remains haunted by the ghost of Candy (senior Christena Doggrell), whose tragic story gradually unfolds in a series of short, dreamlike scenes that jump backward and forward in time.

“It’s a play about someone trying to remember who they are,” explains Golden (LA 2004). “Bard is running from something, but his memories — represented by this wonderful, untouchable woman — won’t let him sleep at night.”

The biennial Hotchner Competition — endowed by alumnus, novelist, poet and playwright A. E. Hotchner — is open to all undergraduate and graduate students at Washington University. Winning plays are selected by blind jury and undergo a yearlong development process before debuting the following spring in full theatrical production.

Director Jeffery S. Matthews, senior artist-in-residence, explained that the development process “really gives playwrights time to polish and refine their works. It’s exciting to watch, exciting to get the new pages.

“Brian is very talented and a great listener,” Matthews added. “When you give him a note, you know that he really hears it. He’s also a merciless editor of his own work, which brings real depth to the writing.”

The four-person cast is rounded out by Dan Hirsh, who performs a variety of roles. Set design is by Pushkar Sharma. Costumes are by Salina Greene. Sound and lighting are by Derek Dohler and Matt Kitces, respectively.

It’s been a busy month for Golden. In addition to debuting Charlack, he recently appeared at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. as acting partner to Daniel Sheridan, a longtime friend who won an Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship at this year’s American College Theatre Festival.

Hotchner, a 1940 graduate of Washington University, is perhaps best known for Papa Hemingway (1966), which recounts his long friendship with the famous writer. His memoir, King of the Hill, which recounts growing up in St. Louis, was made into a feature film in 1993.


WHO: Performing Arts Department

WHAT: Six Seconds in Charlack, by Brian Golden, directed by Jeffrey Matthews

WHEN: 8 p.m. April 28, 29 and 30; 2 p.m. April 30 and May 1

WHERE: A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre, Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

COST:$12; $8 for seniors, students and Washington University faculty and staff. Available at the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543, and all MetroTix outlets.

INFORMATION: (314) 935-6543