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Click here for the review in The Roanoke Times
Read Dan Smith's review of MAN WITH WINGS here

Take a look at this profile of playwright Ben R. Williams

Man With Wings
 Written by Ben R. Williams
Directed by Kenley Smith

August 10-21, 2011

In 1971, a small-town sheriff bears witness to a tragic and inexplicable event. Forty years later, a free-lance writer and investigator of unexplained phenomena arrives at the sheriff’s run-down apartment, desperate to learn the truth behind the so-called “Thunderbird Incident.” But the answer the sheriff offers may not be what the writer hoped for; the truth may be worse by far. 


The Sheriff ... Patrick Kennerly
The Writer ... Drew Dowdy

Artistic Director:  Melora Kordos
Technical Director / Resident Designer:  
Jason “Blue” Herbert
Stage Manager:  Matthew Cornpropst
Technical Intern / Sound Design:  Matthew Cornpropst
Box Office:  Kim Do

Our Community Partners:  Audiotronics; Playwright's Lab at Hollins University; Roanoke Times/; Swift Print; 101.5 The Music Place, and New City Media

About the Playwright

Ben R. Williams, a 2007 graduate of Roanoke College, is general manager of Studio Roanoke.  He has been the Director of Guerrilla Programming at Studio Roanoke since May, 2010, planning and hosting both Guerrilla Playhouse and Guerrilla Cinema.  His first play, Ant Farm (directed by Todd Ristau), debuted at Studio Roanoke in May, 2009.

A native of Basset, VA, Williams began attending Roanoke’s No Shame Theater in 2006, where he was a regular writer and performer for more than four years.  A collection of his No Shame pieces, Hard Times for Ugly Men, was published in 2008with a revised and expanded edition following in 2009.

Williams has also been a regular contestant in The International 3-Day Novel Contest.  His first novel, Big Nasty Heartbreaker, was a short-listed entry for 2007, putting it in the top 20 out of nearly 500 submitted novels.  3x3, a collection of Williams’ first three 3-Day Novels, was published in 2010. 

Williams has performed live readings of his work at both Studio Roanoke and The Bazaar, a performance venue/record store/consignment shop in Roanoke. 

He is also the front man and lead singer for Death Newman, a hard-rock Randy Newman tribute band.

About the Director

Kenley Smith is Studio Roanoke's first playwright-in-residence.  He previously served as board president (2008-2010) and artistic director (2010-2011).  Four of his plays have been produced here, including The New Testament, which he also directed.  His latest work, Monkey Wrench, premieres in April.

A native of Beckley, WV, Smith currently lives in Bent Mountain, VA.

From the Dramaturg

Cryptozoology is both the study and the search for animals whose existence has not been proven.  Although derided by many scientists, the study has many prominent adherents, many who risk their career and reputations to study what they believe.

In Ben R. Williams’s new play Man With Wings he asks us the question: what do you believe?  Do you believe in the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, The Mongolian Death Worm, Squonk?  Man With Wings isn’t interested in what you believe, but rather why you believe.  Are you like Charles Fort, fed up with the arrogance of scientists, who claim they know everything?  Or is there another, better reason out there?  The New World, and the American South in particular was once shrouded in mystery.  There were entire cities made of gold, and infinite seas of buffalo to feed your hungry children.  Those days are long gone, and the world has been discovered.  The New World has become the Old.  Is there nothing left to discover, nothing new under the sun?  Perhaps these creatures, called cryptids by professionals, are a way of dealing with the loss of a romantic ideal. 

This is not to say they don’t exist. 

In 1938, a cryptid called a coelacanth was caught off the coast of South Africa, thought to have been extinct for hundreds of millions of years.

The giant squid was thought to be a cryptid for years, existing only in bits of tentacle washed up on the beach, and in the minds of people like Jules Verne, in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  The first photograph of a live adult wasn’t taken until 2002, and wasn’t observed in its natural habitat until 2006. 

The Hoan Kiem turtle, a giant Vietnamese lake turtle, once thought to be a legend, was documented for the first time in April, 2011. 

So maybe the world isn’t as boring as we think.  As you watch Man With Wings tonight, think about the lines between magic and science, hoax and legend, what you can see, and why you believe.

— Will Coleman, dramaturg



Click here to see the playbill as a PDF

Archive Photos
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Rehearsal Photos
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Construction Photos
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Studio Roanoke is a federally registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization and your donation is tax deductible within the charitable giving regulations of the Internal Revenue Service. A copy of our IRS approval letter is available upon request.

All content © Studio Roanoke, 2011