CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
University Theatres stages Stoppard time-jumping comedy, 'Arcadia'
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University Theatres Mainstage series will present
Tom Stoppard's time-jumping comic mystery "Arcadia," opening
at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6, in E.C. Mabie Theatre of the University of
Iowa Theatre Building. Other performances will be at 8 p.m. Nov. 7, 8 and
12-15, and at 3 p.m. Sundays, Nov. 9 and 16.
"Arcadia" is full of the wit, word-play and surprise that
audiences have come to expect from one of Britain's most playful and sophisticated
playwrights -- a playwright who is brainy and yet appeals to a broad audience.
The play is an intellectual who-dunnit, wrapped around a romance, as
modern-day scholars attempt to determine whether Lord Byron had an affair
-- and perhaps committed a murder -- at a country estate in 1909. Romance,
delusion, chaos theory, turtles and Newtonian physics converge to make
"Arcadia" a wild and provocative romp.
Calling "Arcadia" Stoppard's "best play so far,"
New Yorker critic John Lahr wrote: "Stoppard, whose stock-in-trade
is parody, which is skepticism in cap and bells, has found a metaphor that
takes him beyond parody to vision . . . (that) pits the heart against the
head in a subtle theatrical equation, which factors out into a moving ambiguity."
Lahr calls the play's transitions from present to past and back in a
single setting "an enormous theatrical feat -- a kind of intellectual
mystery story -- in which Stoppard provides the audience with the exhilarating
illusion of omniscience. We become cosmic detectives, outside time, solving
the riddle of history from the clues and connections we see, but the characters,
who are caught in time, do not."
Describing Stoppard as "a superb entertainer," Jack Kroll
wrote in Newsweek, "In 'Arcadia' he brilliantly entwines past and
present in a double helix of emotion and thought..examining basic oppositions
within the Western mind: classic-romantic, free will-determinism, love-lust,
science-art, order-chaos. 'Arcadia' is part detective story, part sex comedy,
part classic farce, part intellectual thriller, part historical drama,
part poignant tragedy. . . . Stoppard's thirst to know affirms that love
is the deepest form of knowing."
"Everything about this play is a treat," says director Eric
Forsythe, a faculty member in the UI department of theatre arts. "I
go to rehearsals and come away with more energy than I had going in. And
certainly, for a university community there is a great deal of reference
to history, to science, to ethics, to research, how research works, academic
in-fighting, the accuracy and relevance of research."
Forsythe concurs with the critics' assessment of Stoppard's balancing
of intellect and humanity, which makes 'Arcadia' his most satisfying play.
"The reason why 'Arcadia' is such an event is that, opposed to his
earlier plays, there's a much greater sense of heart in this play, which
contrasts with the verbal puzzles, oddities, puns and arcane references.
It's the marriage of the heart and the intellect that fascinates me so
much about this play."
"Every time we have a Stoppard play we are amazed at the breadth
of this man's learning, and how he can somehow incorporate all that information
and knowledge into a play and make it compelling. And here, I think, he's
found the ideal way to do that. I find it the culmination and fulfillment
of a career."
Other artistic contributors to the University Theatres Mainstage production
of "Arcadia" are set designer Dan Nemteanu, costume designer
Erin Howell-Gritsch, lighting designer Bryon Winn, sound designer Mark
Bruckner and choreographer Rachelle Tsachor.
Tickets to "Arcadia" are $14 ($7 for UI students, senior citizens
and audience members 17 and younger). Tickets are available in advance
from the Hancher box office. Any remaining tickets for each performance
will be on sale one hour before curtain time at the Theatre Building box
Tickets are also available at a 25-percent discount as part of a University
Theatres Mainstage three-play subscription package. Other options in the
subscription package are Tennessee Williams' "The Eccentricities of
a Nightingale," Feb. 5-15; the world premiere of "Salt"
by Migdalia Cruz, Feb. 26 through March 8; and Shakespeare's "A Midsummer
Night's Dream," April 2-12.
Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa,
dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is
toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged
to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases
to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option
of payroll deduction.
People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services
should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office
personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair
access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is
equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.