Playwright Bruce Graham writes of bereavement, beer and bridges

South Philly playwright Bruce Graham likes to tell a good story, entertain his audiences, and showcase the humanity and honesty of his blue-collar characters. Graham still lives only 10 minutes from where he was born. He knows his people, their voices and their issues.

Idyllwild Actors Theatre will present a staged reading of Graham’s “Stella and Lou,” a lightly comedic and warm-hearted embrace of how people come together, drift apart, and face the very real fears and anxieties of getting old and facing death alone.

The play takes place in Lou’s bar in South Philly near closing time, when a purposeful visit by Stella, one of Lou’s regulars, changes both their lives. These are ordinary, working-class people dealing with the classic conundrum of what do you do if you’re single at 60 and the winters aren’t getting any easier.

Abetted by Donnie, a younger, wise-cracking regular who fears romantic commitment, the beer-fueled bar banter can be brisk, bracing and surprisingly eloquent as Lou, Stella and Donnie look at who they are and where they are at this point in their lives. Can they build bridges of connection or do they bleakly and bravely solo on?

The Chicago Tribune (2013 Chicago premiere) said: “ ‘Stella and Lou’ is a play about late-in-life loneliness, themes that are not often explored in the theater, for all their ubiquity … [the play is] refreshing, [and] potentially devastating, mostly because it feels so familiar.”

Jeri Greene, Vic Sirkin and Chris Doshier star in “Stella and Lou,” directed by Kathleen Walker and Suzanne Avalon. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m., with a reception at 7 p.m., on Friday, May 19, and Saturday, May 20, at the Rainbow Inn. Tickets are $15, available at the door and online at

Graham teaches film and theater courses at Drexel University and has taught graduate-level playwriting at University of Pennsylvania and Villanova and Rutgers universities.