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Release: April 14, 2000

Iowa Playwrights Festival presents 'A Blast!' of new theater May 1-6 at UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Iowa Playwrights Festival, the most ambitious new-play festival in American college theater, will premiere six new plays -- a new play from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop at 5:30 and 9 p.m. each night -- May 1-6 in the University of Iowa Theatre Building. The festival will also feature staged readings of new plays at 1:30 p.m. each day of the festival in the Cosmo Catalano Acting Studio.

Iowa Playwrights Festival 2000 -- titled "A Blast!" -- will also welcome distinguished guests from professional theater: playwright Lee Blessing, a UI alumnus; dramaturgs Sydne Mahone and Morgan Jenness; and literary agent Mead Hunter. The guests will be featured in a free panel discussion at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, May 4 in the Theatre Building.

Tickets to the evening productions are $6 ($3 for students and senior citizens). Tickets will be on sale noon to 1:30 p.m. May 1-5 at the Theatre Building box office, as well as one hour before curtain time each evening.

Alan MacVey, chair of the UI department of theatre arts, says, "I'm looking forward to this year's festival with great anticipation. I have been at the UI for nearly a decade now, and this is the strongest group of festival plays we have ever presented. From beginning to end, our audiences are going to be treated to some outstanding new theater from artists of remarkable promise."

The Iowa Playwrights Festival is a unique event in college theater. Each spring the UI department of theatre arts directs virtually all its academic, technical and production resources to the performance and discussion of new plays from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop.

Many of the plays developed through the Iowa Playwrights Workshop have gone on to successful professional productions, have been honored with theatrical awards or have been invited to theater festivals. For example, Peter Ullian's "In the Shadow of the Terminal Tower" was selected by Harold Prince for development as a musical, and as "Eliot Ness in Cleveland" it premiered in Denver. Naomi Wallace's Iowa Playwrights Festival scripts "The War Boys" and "In the Heart of America" have been given major productions in London. Kate Aspengren, a director in the current festival, presented "Dear Mrs. Martin" in the festival, where it was seen by a representative of the Samuel French publishing house, leading to the script's publication and availability to theaters throughout the country.

Most recently, Levy "Lee" Simon won the American College Theatre Festival Lorraine Hansberry Award for "The Bow Wow Club," premiered in the 1998 Iowa Playwrights Festival, and both Simon and current playwright Kirsten Greenidge were invited to the prestigious National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center.

Some of the productions in the Iowa Playwrights Festival may include material of an adult nature. Potential audience members who are concerned if particular plays are suitable for them should call the theater department, 319-335-2700, for additional information.

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"The First, Second, and Third Parts of the Famous History of the Tragedy of The Republic of Lizard Platform" by Scott Working
directed by Tina Shackleford
5:30 and 9 p.m., David Thayer Theatre

Play description: Former hat designer Everett "Lizard" Man spends the last of his fortune purchasing an off-shore oil platform in the Bermuda Triangle and renovating it into a luxury resort casino and water park. With the help of his childhood friend, he struggles for greatness against the demands of his shrewish, manatee-obsessed wife and the plotting of a mysterious mole from the CIA. Filled with Shakespearean shtick, the play chronicles the rise and fall of a medium-sized business man.


"Feeding Beatrice: A Gothic Tale" by Kirsten Greenidge
directed by Maggie Conroy
5:30 and 9 p.m.. Theatre B

Play description: The Walker's new house is the perfect place to tango, never mind the creaky pipes and crumbling floors. That is, it might be if it weren't for the peculiar appetites of their house guest, Beatrice, whose hunger promises to devour the couple if they do not cater to her demanding presence. Modern versions of "The Bad Seed" and "A Raisin in the Sun" meet, mingle, and waltz together in this inquest of race relations, cruelty and the lengths to which one family will go to find home.


"The Devil and Ben Jones" by Joe Hiatt
directed by Cheryl L. Kaplan
5:30 and 9 p.m., David Thayer Theatre

Play description: A dark, gothic comedy about a boy finding his way to independence. He struggles with the rules for growing up and on the way explores the issues of danger, desolation and the Devil.


"Strange Attractors" by David Adjmi
directed by Sonja Mose
5:30 and 9 p.m. Theatre B

Play description: When a young, nouveau riche Manhattan socialite discovers her husband is ill, she performs the ultimate sacrifice to save him. Will she end up killing herself and everyone she loves in the process? Or has she found the unlikeliest road to nirvana since Sade's Justine? This "screwball melodrama" collapses Ibsen's Dollhouse and Barbie's Dreamhouse into a zany, terrifying play on love, sex and morality in the 21st century.

"The Sad Misadventures of Patty, Patty's Dad, Patty's Friend Jen, and a Bunch of Other People" by Allison Moore
directed by Kate Aspengren
5:30 and 9 p.m., David Thayer Theatre

Play description: There is a parallel universe where economic theory and the mysterious workings of aphasia meet, a place where random encounters with strangers are mirrored in the erratic misfirings of neurons. Patty -- an economics whiz and social klutz -- finds herself in this new world when her long-estranged father suffers a massive stroke and is re-introduced into her life. With help from social workers, kickboxing instructors and a best friend with Super Powers, this comedy of awkwardness follows Patty as she faces the toughest moral decisions of her life.


"Nightwatches" by Victoria Stewart
directed by Carol MacVey
5:30 and 9 p.m., Theatre B

Play description: In turn of the century new England, Mary enters into an arranged marriage with Stephen, a neighboring farmer. As they learn more about each other and themselves, their relationship becomes ever more complicated. A tale of desire, repression and love.


May 1, 1:30 p.m. -- "Grade A" by Kara Hartzler

May 2, 1:30 p.m. -- "A Short History of Shrimp and Feet", by Margaret Baldwin

3:30 p.m.-- "Halfway to Florida" by Bronwen Bitetti

May 3, 1:30 p.m. -- "A Dress for Mona" by Mark Perry

May 4, 1:30 p.m. -- Undergraduate Playwrights

May 5, 1:30 p.m. -- "The Mountain Lion" by Steve Frattali

May 6, 1:30 p.m. -- "The Secret Rain" by Robert Wray