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Release: Jan. 19, 2001

(NOTE TO EDITORS: Director Alan MacVey can be reached by phone at 319-335-2700 or by e-mail at <>. Iizuka’s e-mail address is <>.)

Iizuka’s comedy 'Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls' traces self-discovery struggles in a chaotic world

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University Theatres Mainstage will present the imaginative comedy "Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls," by University of Iowa department of theatre arts visiting faculty member Naomi Iizuka Feb. 1-11 in the David Thayer Theatre of the UI Theatre Building.

Performances will be at 8 p.m. Feb. 1-3 and 7-11, and at 3 p.m. Sundays, Feb. 4 and 11.

In this unpredictable fantasy, which was premiered at the bellwether Humana Festival in Louisville, Iizuka’s offbeat characters search for connection and family in a world Iizuka describes as "chaotic and a little bit random, and at times outright unfriendly." Traversing terrain from a zoo-like New York City to other exotic locales, they ultimately attempt to "grow into their own skin," evolving into "improved" incarnations of themselves.

Director Alan MacVey, chair of the department of theatre arts, says, "Naomi taught here in the fall of 1999 and was a great favorite with students and faculty. She joined us for the second week of rehearsal, and she’ll be back for the last week. She did some major re-writing specifically for this production and continued making improvements throughout rehearsal. She’s very responsive to actors and is a joy to work with. She also happens to be one of the most up and coming playwrights in America."

Iizuka was headed for a legal career, but after one year at the Yale Law School she decided she must follow her passion for theater. She headed west, joined the playwriting program at San Diego State University, and has written steadily ever since.

Her work has been produced throughout the country, from small alternative theater companies to major regional institutions. Ilana M. Brownstein wrote, "Iizuka masterfully, and unpredictably, weaves the stories of her characters with equal measures of pain, humor, and above all hope."

Her other plays include "Skin," "Scheherazade," "Marlowe’s Eye," "Tattoo Girl," "War of the Worlds" and "36 Views," which MacVey directed last summer in Vermont. She’s won a PEN Center award for drama, a Jerome Playwriting Fellowship and a McKnight Advancement Grant.

MacVey says of "Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls,": " I think students will really enjoy this play. It’s funny, quirky, theatrical, and full of people they’ll recognize. It’s even goofy at times, but ultimately is about something quite real: It’s about characters who are just out of college, trying to find their way in the world.

"Each person is a little nutty -- one is a bit of a Valley girl, one is obsessed with writing his autobiography, one owns a dog big enough to take up an entire apartment, one IS the dog. They’re all on the loose in a big world where it’s hard to make connections, even harder to keep them, where home and family seem like something that happened a long time ago or might occur again a long time in the future. They’re happy as clams to be out of school, having a life on their own, but they’re also lonely and looking for love."

Other artistic contributors to the Mainstage production of "Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls" are scenic designer Michael McGarty, costume designer Leandra Logsdon, lighting designer Liza Williams, sound designer Kirsten Johnson and dramaturg Art Borreca.

Tickets for "Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls" are $15 ($7 for UI students, senior citizens and youth). 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 are available at a 20-percent discount as part of a University Theatres three-play subscription package. The other remaining productions in the 2000-2001 Mainstage Season are "Strange Attractors" by Iowa Playwrights Workshop graduate student David Adjmi, Feb. 22 through March 4; and Moliere’s "The Learned Ladies," March 29 through April 8.

Box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 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 (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.

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