LEWISTON — A two-character play about ambition, artistic conflicts, rivalries and the rise and fall of a friendship will come to life at Bates College’s Black Box Theater.

“Collected Stories,” by Donald Margulies, uses the story of Ruth Steiner, a flash-in-the-pan writer in her declining years, and her rising protege, Lisa Morrison, to examine issues of artistic integrity, as well as the realities of life as an artist, over a six-year span.

Lisa begins as an insecure student, blossoms into a successful short story writer and then writes a novel based on Ruth’s affair with real-world poet Delmore Schwartz.

Together, they struggle with the moral dilemma of whether the events of one person’s life are fair game for use in another person’s art.

The cast consists of Bates junior Elizabeth Danello of Washington, D.C., as Lisa; and Mary Meserve, Bates College registrar, as Ruth. Katalin Vecsey, senior lecturer and vocal director for theater productions at Bates, is the director.

Danello said the play “explores the boundaries of ambition within the borders of an evolving friendship. It’s an intense psychological exploration of a mentor-mentee relationship that calls for a realistic and multilayered performance.”

“One of the central issues in the play is which character, if either, is in the right,” she said. “At the end, will the audience sympathize with Lisa or Ruth?”

Danello, a double major in English and theater, is also a stage manager and director, and has acted in several mainstage productions at Bates.

Over the past 15 years, Meserve has performed and directed at various theaters around southern Maine, such as Lyric Music Theater, Portland Players and Community Little Theater. She also performed in the Bates production of “A Lie of the Mind” in 2008.

“Collected Stories” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7-8, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at the theater at 305 College St. Admission is free to the public. For more information, call 786-8294.

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