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Release: Oct. 29, 1999

Aspengren play premiered at UI takes flight off-Broadway

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- "Flyer," a play by Kate Aspengren that premiered at the University of Iowa in 1996 through a grant from the Iowa Arts Council, is now taking flight off-Broadway in New York City. The play opens Oct. 29 at the West End Theatre in Manhattan, produced by Six Figures Theater Company, a company that focuses on women’s stories.

Aspengren, a native of Des Moines, is an alumna of the UI department of theatre arts and now teaches for the department.

"Flyer" tells the story of a woman whose lifetime love affair with aviation led her to reach for outer space as a member of the "Mercury 13," an elite group of female pilots who were candidates for the U.S. astronaut program. They went through the same rigorous training and testing as their male counterparts, but in 1962 the women were unceremoniously dismissed from the space program by a Senate subcommittee.

The New York production features Tandy Cronyn -- daughter of the legendary stage couple of Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy -- who was recently featured in the UI production of Aspengren’s "Blue Yonder." UI theater graduate Sandra DeLuca is understudying the leading role.

Three of the plays Aspengren has written at the UI -- "Dear Mrs. Martin," "House of Wonders" and "Mother's Day" -- have been published by Samuel French. Her other plays include "Girl Detective," "State of Grace" and a script about issues of college life that has been produced for UI freshman orientation sessions.

(NOTE TO EDITORS: Aspengren is reachable by e-mail at, and she may be reached by phone at 351-2759.)