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Writing is a scavenger's business. Writers observe the people around them — friends, family, strangers — watching and listening, ever on the prowl for some detail or tidbit that strikes their fancy. And like a magpie, when they spot something shiny amid the muck of daily life, they steal it, polish it a bit, and call it their own. This is the dirty business of writing — unabashed theft of the singular moments of other people's lives. Ruth is a master of the art. An acclaimed short-story writer, she's not prolific by any means, but everything she writes is potent. Lisa is her overeager pupil, a grad student who's determined to learn everything she can from her reluctant mentor. In Donald Margulies' play Collected Stories, we see the women's relationship change over the course of six years. The teacher/student dynamic becomes one of familiarity, then friendship, and then something else entirely, as Lisa proves she's gleaned everything she can from Ruth's tutelage — and she's not afraid to use what she now knows. The Orange Girls present Collected Stories at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (July 17 through August 2) at the Center of Creative Arts (524 Trinity Avenue, University City; 314-520-9557 or www.orangegirls.org). Tickets are $18 to $20.
Thursdays-Sundays. Starts: July 17. Continues through Aug. 2, 2009

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