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Release: Oct. 27, 2000

Theater artist/scholar Richard Schechner, a UI alumnus, will be Ida Beam professor

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Theater artist/scholar Richard Schechner, an alumnus of the University of Iowa, will present three free Ida Beam Visiting Professor lectures during five days at the UI: at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Nov. 1, in Theatre B of the UI Theatre Building; 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2, in Room C125 of the Pappajohn Business Administration Building; and 3:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3, in Room 112 Macbride Hall.

The Nov. 1 lecture, "Theatre and Performance in the 21st Century," will coincide with the mounting of his photograph in the UI department of theatre arts’ gallery of distinguished alumni and will be followed by a public reception.

The Nov. 2 lecture will be "Ramlila of Ramnagar: A Field Work and Theoretical Perspective, 1976-2000"; and the Nov. 3 lecture will be "Rasaethetics: A Very Old New Approach to Performance." Refreshments will be provided at both lectures.

Schechner, a faculty member at New York University, will also meet formally and informally with UI students and faculty in several departments during a five-day return to the UI.

Schechner’s visit to the UI is sponsored by the department of theatre arts, the department of anthropology and the interdisciplinary South Asian Studies Program of International Programs.

Schechner is a world-renowned artist and scholar whose work for more than three decades has straddled disciplinary boundaries and challenged conventional definitions of theatre, ritual and performance.

In theater he is famous as an accomplished and innovative actor and director who led the avant-garde Performance Group from 1967 through1980. As the long-time editor of the journal TDR, he helped familiarize the American theater community with the work of Jerzy Grotowski of Poland and other avant-garde artists. Schechner also engineered the transformation of TDR into a journal not merely of drama but of interdisciplinary "performance studies."

Schechner still periodically directs plays both in New York City and worldwide, including a 1999 production of "Hamlet" for East Coast Artists, "The Oresteia" in Taiwan in 1995, and "The Cherry Orchard," in New Delhi in 1983.

Schechner is equally well known to cultural anthropologists and ethnographers, both through TDR and through his own prolific writings, including more than 60 articles and essays since 1991 on topics connecting theater with ritual.

In 1982, he collaborated with anthropologist Victor Turner in convening a series of influential conferences on "Performance and Ritual," and he later contributed the introduction to Turner’s "The Anthropology of Performance."

His 10 single-author books include "Environmental Theatre," "Essays on Performance Theory," "Between Theatre and Anthropology" and "The Future of Ritual."

A dynamic public speaker and committed educator, Schechner has taught at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts since 1967. There he innovated a multidisciplinary department of performance studies based on an expanded vision of performance that includes the study of rituals and popular culture.

As a visiting scholar, Schechner is much in demand, and in the recent past he has held appointments or professorships at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Princeton University, the Shanghai Theatre Academy and Goethe University in Germany. He is Andrew H. White Professor-at-Large of Cornell University through 2005.

During the past two years, his numerous lecture engagements have included London’s Interface Festival of Intercultural Arts, Brown University, Dartmouth College and the Dutch Theatre Center in Amsterdam. He was the keynote speaker at the convention of the International Performance Association in Tokyo.

Schechner received his UI master’s degree in playwriting in 1958. He last visited the UI in 1989, when he served as keynote speaker for the conference "Redefining the Artisan: Traditional Technicians in Changing Societies," sponsored by the Center for International and Comparative Studies.

The Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professorships Program brings outstanding scholars to the UI campus for residencies ranging from a few days to an entire academic year. A native of Vinton, Ia., Beam willed her farm to the UI in 1977. Proceeds from the sale of the farm were used to establish the visiting professorships program in her name. Since 1977, hundreds of eminent scholars and scientists have visited the UI campus to give public lectures and to meet with students and faculty.