Leaving a paper trail

While living in New York, playwright Katharine Clark Gray came across an advertisement on a telephone pole: “I’ll write your term paper.”

Perhaps because Gray’s parents are drama professors at Syracuse University, the little moment burrowed into her thoughts. She just had to call the number, and that’s when “516 (five sixteen)” was born.

“He said getting caught wasn’t really an issue for him. They just called him up, and he wrote their paper,”

says Gray, who now lives in Port Richmond. “I was such a goodie two-shoes in college, and the whole thing was beyond my comprehension. Like, his number is right there. Why doesn’t he get caught?”

In “516,” a romantic relationship takes off between student and professional paper writer. But the honest feelings between them can’t help but be obscured by the essential lie.

“He’s one of these people who takes what he wants. He doesn’t really think twice about it,” says actor Kevin Meehan, who plays the student.

Not that he’s entirely cold. “If there’s no real feeling, then there’s no point in watching. It’s a bunch of a—holes onstage,” adds Gray. “But there’s plenty of selling each other up the river.”

‘516 (five sixteen)’

Presented by Philadelphia Theatre Workshop

Through June 6

Studio 5 at Walnut Street Theatre

825 Walnut St.

$15-$18, 215-316-1361

www.philadelphiatheatre workshop.org

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