CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
NOTE TO EDITORS: The report is that Iowa Summer Rep is selling "tons
of tickets." Several "Table Manners" performances are already
sold out, as indicated in this release. We suggest that you check with
the box office just before publishing or broadcasting this story, so that
you can give your audience the most up-to-date information on ticket availability.
Iowa Summer Rep '98 festival of Ayckbourn comedies opens June 24
with 'Table Manners'
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa Summer Rep, the University of Iowa professional
theater company that each summer presents a festival of plays by a single
contemporary playwright, will open its 1998 festival of comedies by Britain's
Alan Ayckbourn with "Table Manners" at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June
24 in Theatre B of the UI Theatre Building.
Additional performances of "Table Manners," the first play
in the famous "Norman Conquests" trilogy, will be at 8 p.m. June
25-27, June 30 and July 5, 7, 15 and 19; at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sunday, June
28; at 6 p.m. July 4 (so that audience members will be out in time to enjoy
the fireworks); and 2 p.m. Sundays, July 5 and 12.
Dinner at "Betty Windsor's Cafe" (a thinly veiled reference
to Her Royal Highness) will be available on the Theatre Building plaza,
overlooking the Iowa River, beginning at 6 p.m. before evening performances
(beginning at 4 p.m. on July 4).
This season's fare, specially planned by the Iowa Memorial Union's catering
service, will harmonize with Ayckbourn's decidedly British humor: Dinner
selections will include: appetizers of Fig Raisin Walnut Tart with Stilton
Cheese, Strawberry Apple Soup with Honey Yogurt, and Watercress Smoked
Trout Salad; entrees of Fish and Chips, a Ploughman's Plate and Sherried
Mushroom Crust; and desserts of Lemon Curd Tart with Candied Ginger, and
Fresh Strawberries and Cream Shortbread.
Dinner reservations are recommended, by calling (319) 335-3105. Cash,
check or UI chanrge are accepted for dinner payment, but credit cards are
"Table Manners" asks the theatrical question, "What happens
when Annie seeks one wonderful, wild weekend away from her bedridden mother
and runs afoul of her bossy sister-in-law?" The answer comes in the
form of a manic version of musical chairs, involving a bashful vet, a cat
with an injured paw, a car with ignition problems and the irresponsible,
egocentric husband of her other sister.
"Table Manners" and the other two plays of the "Norman
Conquests" were presented in critically acclaimed broadcasts on public
TV, with Tom Conti in the lead role. Each play in the trilogy can stand
hilariously alone, but together they are a feat of comic invention and
engineering -- presenting the simultaneous events in three adjoining locations
at an English country home.
Director John Cameron, a faculty member in the UI Department of Theatre
Arts, says: "Americans tend to see these plays as entertaining fluff,
but I don't think they are. They have to do with British angst about propriety
"The people in the play are so busy trying to keep up appearances
that when something comes along that doesn't fit the pattern it results
in absurd behavior -- and then they act as if nothing happened. With American
characters the comedy would come from their attempts to talk it out and
resolve it, but with the British the comedy comes from their relentless
Other artistic contributors to the Iowa Summer Rep production of "Table
Manners" include scenic designer Margaret Wenk, costume designer Erin
Howell-Gritsch, lighting designer Jim Albert and sound designer Mark Bruckner.
Alan Ayckbourn has spent his entire career in theater, as a stage manager,
sound technician, lighting technician, scene painter, prop maker, actor
and director. He is now artistic director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre
Fortunately for theatergoers everywhere who like to laugh, he also tried
his hand at playwriting. Since his first hit, "Relatively Speaking,"
opened in 1967, Ayckbourne has written more than 50 plays.
"Alan Ayckbourn is Britain's most prolific contemporary playwright,
arguably the most popular, and, in my view, one of the greatest,"
says Iowa Summer Rep Artistic Director Eric Forsythe, a faculty member
in the UI Department of Theatre Arts. "His plays cover the gamut of
modern experience, focusing on our strategies of dealing with the banal
and humdrum challenges of everyday life. The pleasure in Ayckbourn is watching
extraordinary solutions to ordinary problems . . . what he writes shimmers
with theatrical inventiveness."
His plays have won many awards, including seven London Evening Standard
Awards and the Dramalogue Critics Award. They have been translated into
more than 30 languages, are performed on stage and television throughout
the world, and have been filmed in English and French.
Ayckbourn's other honors include the Writers' Guild of Great Britain
Lifetime Achievement Award and the 1994 Montblanc de la Culture Award for
Europe, and he was recently knighted for his services to British theater.
Tickets for "Table Manners" are $15 ($8 for UI students, senior
citizens and youth), and are available in advance from the Hancher box
office. If any tickets remain for a performance, they will be available
one hour before curtain time at the Theatre Building box office. All tickets
have been sold for the June 24-27 performances.
Summer Rep subscriptions -- which are $36 ($21 for UI students, senior
citizens and youth) -- offer substantial discounts to all three Ayckbourn
Festival shows. The other productions are "Bedroom Farce" and
"Woman in Mind." A free Iowa Summer Rep brochure is available
from the box office, or from the UI Department of Theatre Arts, (319) 335-2700.
Hancher summer box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays. From
the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance
within Iowa and western Illinois istoll-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. The line is equipped with TDD for people with
hearing impairment who use that technology.
The University of Iowa Community Credit Union is the corporate sponsor
of Iowa Summer Rep.
* * *
IOWA SUMMER REP '98
A Summer of British Comedy/Three Plays by Alan Ayckbourn
(performances at 8 p.m. unless otherwise noted)
June 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 (2 pm), 28, 30
July 4 (6 pm), 5 (2 pm), 7, 12 (2 pm), 15, 19
David Thayer Theatre
July 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 12, 14, 19 (2 pm), 22, 23, 24, 25
"Woman in Mind"
E. C. Mabie Theatre
July 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18
"Time of My Life" Reading