Duke presented his play Two Small Bodies Feb. 25-27 at the Brody Theater, and a reading of his latest, Now You See Me, will appear March 30 at Manbites Dog Theater.
According to press notes, Two Small Bodies "explores the unsettling love/hate relationship which develops between a tough-guy detective and Eileen, the voluptuous woman whom he suspects of murdering her two young children. The story is loosely connected to the true story of the death of the two children of Alice Crimmins who were discovered missing on July 14, 1965."
It was originally produced by Playwrights Horizons in 1977. The new Duke production featured Duke students Brittany Duck and Kyle Glackin. Directed by alumnus Marshall Botvinick, Two Small Bodies was Duck's senior project.
"It's a little daunting to think that the play was produced in New York about ten years before either of the actors in it was born... but it's exhilarating to watch these young actors bringing the play to life," Bell said in a statement. "I find inspiration in newspapers and magazines and get absorbed in real stories — so I take a 'ripped from the headlines' approach to writing. When a real life story intrigues me, I try to find the gray area in what might appear to be black and white. I don't believe in black and white. People's motives are never as clear as they may seem."
"I have always enjoyed plays with complex female characters such as Eileen," Duck said in a statement. "I chose this play to give me an opportunity to really push myself as an actress. The fact that this play is based on a real crime contributes to the tension in the play." Two Small Bodies appeared in the Brody Theater on Duke's East Campus.
On March 20, Duke faculty member Jody McAuliffe will direct a reading of Now You See Me, Bell's latest play, which focuses on America's obsession with reality television and is billed as "a satire about life, love, and death on TV."
The reading will be produced as a part of Dukes annual new works festival in conjunction with Manbites Dog Theater under the artistic direction of Jeff Storer, also a Duke faculty member.
One of the primary missions of Duke's department of theatre studies is "to play a role in the creation and development of new works for American theatre."
According to Bell, Now You See Me "has a major video component, and the theatre department's actively supporting the reading to see how text and video work together."
Now You See Me features local actors Chris Burner, Katja Hill, Frank Lentricchia, Nicole Quenelle and Lucius Robinson, with video components by Duke faculty member Shambhavi Kaul.
The reading will take place at Durham's Manbites Dog Theater on March 20.
Bell is an Obie Award-winning playwright for sustained achievement and has been recognized with fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
For more information on Two Small Bodies and Now You See Me, visit theaterstudies.duke.edu.