CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Aug. 20, 1999
Hancher Millennium Festival opens with American premiere
of Geometry of Miracles
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The 1999-2000 Millennium Festival at
the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium will open with the American premiere
of "The Geometry of Miracles," a theatrical response to the career
of architect Frank Lloyd Wright by Quebec director Robert Lepage and his Ex
Machina theater company, at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 9-11 in
the Hancher Loft.
The Hancher Loft is an intimate setting that places the
audience on-stage with the performers. This season the Hancher Loft features
new flexible seating risers, featuring padded chairs with backs, replacing
the bleachers that were used for many seasons.
Lepage, who has been hailed as one of the theater visionaries
of the late 20th century, combines dance, music, theater and innovative stagecraft
to examine a little-explored aspect of Wrights career -- the influence
of Russian/Serbo-Croatian mystic Georgei Gurdjieff through Wrights third
wife, Olgivanna. The influence of this "rascal sage" took place
during the 30s and 40s, when Wright designed the Johnson Wax headquarters
in Racine, Wis., and other of his most spectacular buildings.
Gurdjieff taught that humans live life as if sleepwalking,
and he prescribed methods of inner work that would lead to an awakening to
higher levels of awareness and vitality. His emphasis on direct teacher/pupil
relationship offers parallels to the process of artistic apprenticeship. Another
of the principal characters is one of Wrights architectural disciples.
"Geometry of Miracles" views Wright and his
art completely through the eyes of Gurdjieff, family members and apprentices.
Wright is portrayed by various actors during the performance, and he never
In an article about Lepages creative process, critic
James Bunzli wrote, "The piece, a typical Lepagian work-in-progress,
continues to change . . . At the heart of Lepages modus operandi is
a concept that combines autobiography, coincidence and paradox, and the performance
moment. It is a way of working, thinking, living, which gives Lepages
work a relentless indeterminacy and a dynamic, unique, imagistic inner self
-- even in (because of) the works chronic unfinished state."
Reviewing the Toronto premiere, the Globe and Mail described
"The Geometry of Miracles" as containing "imagery so intense
Hanchers commission for the Millennium Festival
is not the only Iowa connection to "The Geometry of Miracles." Iowa
is the site of numerous buildings designed by Wrights Prairie School
The Hancher Millennium Festival has emerged as the most
extensive and ambitious performing-arts millennium celebration in the United
States. The season-spanning festival features 16 major commissions in music,
theater and dance, with 15 of the commissioned works and productions receiving
their world or American premieres in Hancher.
In addition to "The Geometry of Miracles," new
works have been created -- or are being created -- by choreographers Twyla
Tharp, Paul Taylor, UI alumnus Lar Lubovitch, Susan Marshall, Bill T. Jones,
Ushio Amagatsu and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; and composers Richard Danielpour,
Michael Daugherty, Paul Schoenfield, UI alumnus David Lang and Mexico's Gabriela
Performances of the commissioned works will be presented
by prominent ensembles including American Ballet Theatre, the Kronos Quartet,
the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Bang on a Can, Sankai Juku, the Alvin Ailey
American Dance Theatre, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, the Paul
Taylor Dance Company, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, the Ahn Trio and
the Ethos Percussion Group.
Several of the commissioned works will be presented in
the midst of residencies that will feature extensive arts education efforts,
including events cabled statewide on the Iowa Communication Network (ICN).
The ICN is a unique, state-owned fiber-optic network linking educational institutions,
libraries, community centers and government agencies for real-time audio-visual
The commission of "The Geometry of Miracles"
was supported by Marvin A. and Rose Lee Pomerantz of Des Moines. Other commissioning
and production support came from the National Endowment for the Arts, the
Hancher Millennium Fund, the Hancher Enrichment Fund and Hanchers annual
giving program, which is known as Hancher Circle.
Tickets for "The Geometry of Miracles" are $28
($24.40 for UI students and senior citizens, and half price for audience members
17 and younger). Tickets can be purchased at a substantial discount as part
of Hanchers volume-purchase plan. A simultaneous purchase of three to
five events qualifies for a 15-percent discount, and a simultaneous purchase
of six or more events qualifies for a 20-percent discount.
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.
The entire 1999-2000 Hancher seasonincluding the
season-spanning Millennium Festival is detailed in a free brochure,
"At This Moment," which is available from the Hancher administrative offices
(319-335-1130) or the Hancher box office.
"The Geometry of Miracles" contains some nudity.
Potential audience members who are concerned about whether the production
is appropriate for them should request additional information from the box