March 18 2013 12:00 AM

New Planet Broadway staged reading was written by the performers

Thursday, July 21 — What do you get when four teenage girls
are thrown into a psych ward, after proving to be a danger to themselves and
society? According to Mark Ruhala, the executive director at the Ruhala
Performing Arts Center, you get an eyeful of “the healthy versus the pathological.”

On Thursday, the Ruhala Performing Arts Center presents a
staged reading premiere of “Once Upon a…Psych Ward,” a play that explores the
unlikely friendship between four young women who are, according to society,
psychologically deranged. While it might not be surprising that the girls don’t
necessarily see their disturbances as a problem, their so-called “conditions”
are far from generic.

As a staged reading, Ruhala points out that the production
will lack stage furniture and setting dcor. “Basically it will be four chairs,
a table and two music stands,” Ruhala says. “It’s up to the audience to

He promises, however, that there will be stage lighting and that the show
features four original songs written by the performers.

The play is a result of the center’s Planet Broadway
program, which asks performers to “collaborate and create new pieces based on
what concerns them,” Ruhala says. He
acknowledges that he often does much of the writing and editing, but this time,
the performers did it all on their own.

He proudly says that “the scenes flow beautifully” and he “couldn’t be

“If you’re interested in fresh new voices and the minds of young people, don’t
miss it,” he says.

'Once Upon a…Psych Ward'
Performing Arts Center
1846 Haslett Rd. East Lansing
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 21
(517) 337-0464