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Release: June 16, 2000

Albee's Pulitzer-winning 'A Delicate Balance' continues Iowa Summer Rep 2000

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Iowa Summer Rep 2000 festival of plays by Edward Albee will continue with the opening of "A Delicate Balance," the 1966 play that won the first of Albee's three Pulitzer Prizes, at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 29 in E.C. Mabie Theatre of the University of Iowa Theatre Building. Additional performances will be at 8 p.m. June 30 and July 1, 7 and 8.

In "A Delicate Balance" Agnes and Tobias are a middle-aged couple maintaining a delicately balanced marriage built on easy choices and unilateral decisions made years ago. Retirement should be an idyllic and secure time in their lives, but their equilibrium is challenged not only by Agnes' ever-present alcoholic sister, Claire, but also by their daughter Julia's return home from her fourth failed marriage. Into this already tense situation, their best friends arrive, desperately seeking refuge from an unnamed terror.

Guest director Susan Gregg, an Iowa Summer Rep veteran who is associate artistic director of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, says, "I remember dismissing 'A Delicate Balance' because I didn't understand what the terror was. It's true that I'm 25 years older now and understand all too well what the terror is, but more importantly, the play is likewise that much older and this is the year 2000 -- perhaps we've caught up with it. Albee specifies that it be set 'now,' so it's October, 1999, just before the turn of the millennium, when the whole world is looking backwards as much as forwards. That's the source of the terror."

As the already uneasy balance of their marriage teeters, what are Agnes and Tobias to do: Turn their friends away, betray the friendship and destroy years of trust, or welcome them to stay forever and in doing so bring the terror down upon themselves? And which is desirable in the end, nurturing illusions of security and order, or facing the devastating truth?

A New York Daily News review called "A Delicate Balance" "a beautiful play . . . filled with humor and compassion and touched with poetry." A London review described it as "a caustically funny and moving exploration of love, compassion and the bonds of friendship and family."

Other artistic contributors to the Iowa Summer Rep 2000 production of "A Delicate Balance" are set designer Alison Ford, costume designer Loyce Arthur, lighting designer Bryon Winn and sound designer Mark Bruckner.

Beginning in the late 1950s, Albee established a reputation for creating dramatic tension while simultaneously voicing serious social criticism. In addition to "A Delicate Balance" and "Seascape," he won the Pulitzer Prize for "Three Tall Women" in 1994, and his three Pulitzers rank second only to Eugene O'Neill's four. Tony Awards for Broadway productions went not only to "A Delicate Balance" but also to "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

In 1996, Albee received a Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 1997 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.

At the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony in 1996, Albee was praised for his impact on American drama: "Edward Albee burst into the American theatrical scene in the late 1950s with a variety of plays that detailed the agonies and disillusionment of that decade and the transition from the placid Eisenhower years to the turbulent 1960s. Albee's plays, with their intensity, their grappling with modern themes, and their experiments in form, startled critics and audiences alike while changing the landscape of American drama."

"To me, Edward Albee means power and wit combined in breathtaking ways," says UI department of theatre arts faculty member Eric Forsythe, artistic director of Iowa Summer Rep. "He audaciously jumps into your living room or into your beach party and shakes things up. I can't imagine a more exhilarating roller-coaster ride!"

For many seasons Iowa Summer Rep has pursued a unique focus in American summer theater with its single-playwright festivals, and last season Iowa Summer Rep also became an Actor's Equity Company, elevating its status as a professional theater company.

Tickets for the Iowa Summer Rep 2000 production of "A Delicate Balance" are $17 ($13 for senior citizens, and $9 for students). Tickets may be purchased in advance from the Hancher Auditorium box office. Any remaining tickets for each performance will be available one hour before curtain time at the Theatre Building box office.

Tickets may be purchased at a substantial discount as part of an Iowa Summer Rep subscription package. A $40 package ($31 for senior citizens and $22 for students) also includes the Tony Award winner "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," June 29-July 8, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Seascape," July 11-23.

Hancher box office summer hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays. From the local calling area, dial 335-1160. Long distance 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. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail at <>.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 335-1158. This line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Iowa Summer Rep ticketholders may complete their theatrical outing with a choice of picnic-box dinners at Eddie's Landing, overlooking the Iowa River. Reservations are required: Call 319-335-3105. Orders must be received before 5 p.m. one day in advance.

Reservation forms are available at the Hancher box office or the department of theatre arts. Reservations may also be placed on the World Wide Web at <>. Picnics are available for 8 p.m. performances only, and will be available for pick-up at 6 p.m.

For UI arts information, visit <> on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <>.