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Release: Immediate

UI faculty and students receive American College Theatre Festival honors

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Faculty and students of the University of Iowa department of theatre arts received honors at the American College Theatre Festival (ACTF) Region V gathering that concluded on Saturday, Jan. 25, at the University of Northern Iowa.

Design faculty member and acting department chair David Thayer was presented with the Kennedy Center Gold Medallion, to recognize his career of service to the UI and ACTF. Thayer, who has been a member of the UI faculty since 1954 will retire at the conclusion of this academic year. ACTF cited Thayer for upholding the tradition of UI dramatic arts pioneers including E.C. Mabie, who founded the department and served as its chair for three decades, and Arnie Gillette, who wrote the definitive textbooks on technical theater.

Region V of ACTF also re-named its lighting design workshop in Thayer's honor.

Faculty member Byron Winn, graduate playwright Keith Adkins and undergraduate designer Tisha D. Jahnke received Meritorious Achievement Awards for contributions they made to University Theatres productions that were viewed by ACTF judges during runs at the UI.

Winn was recognized for his lighting of "Natural Knees" last spring, Adkins was honored for Best New Full Length Play for his "Natural Knees" script and Jahnke received the costume design award for the fall 1996 production of "A Preface to the Alien Garden."

Adkins' script and Jahnke's designs were also entered in separate competitions that won Jahnke the $100 first prize in undergraduate design and Adkins the $100 award for Best Full Length Play. The design entries were exhibited at the festival, where they were viewed by a panel of ACTF judges.

Guest designer Gene Friedman was also honored with a Meritorious Achievement Award for his costume and scenic design for "Natural Knees."

"Natural Knees" and "A Preface to the Alien Garden" were original productions of scripts from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop. "Natural Knees" is a profile of influential Harlem writer Henry Dumas, and Robert Alexander's "A Preface to the Alien Garden" portrays the growth of gang violence in the Midwest.

ACTF is a national educational organization that encourages excellence in college theater. The UI has been active in the organization for more than two decades and can boast an unsurpassed record of success in ACTF competitions.