CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: April 26, 2002
Iowa New Play Festival provides opportunity to be part of new theater
in the making
Photo: Michael Johnson-Chase, one of the guest respondents for the
New Play Festival.
Iowa New Play Festival, a week-long whirlwind of adventurous theater with
a premiere each day, has been an annual University of Iowa theater highlight
for more than two decades. The department of theatre arts tradition
of producing, reading and analyzing new Iowa Playwrights Workshop scripts
in a concentrated festival continues this spring -- including the first rock
musical in the festivals history -- May 6-11 in the UI Theatre Building,
featuring productions of five new plays, and reading of several more.
The Iowa New Play Festival is an ambitious enterprise that requires the collaboration
of all areas of the department -- playwrights, directors, designers, actors
and technical resources -- in the production and showcasing of new work. And
the educational value of the enterprise is shared by students in all of those
For theater audiences, the festival provides the excitement of participating
in new theater in the making.
The entire schedule of events takes place in the UI Theatre Building.
MAY 6, MONDAY
Reading: Flying Lessons by Lisa Day, 2 p.m. , David Thayer Theatre.
Production: 800 Words by Tory Stewart. 5:30 & 9 p.m., E.C.
About the play: 800 words is a reinvention of the last few days
of Philip K. Dick, the science fiction author, who had religious visions when
an extraterrestrial God appeared to him.
About the playwright: Stewart will graduate from the UI Playwrights Workshop
in May. Her plays Nightwatches and The Last Scene
were previously produced in the Iowa New Play Festival. Before concentrating
on her writing, she worked as a stage manager for artists including David
Wheeler, Anna Deveare Smith, Peter Sellars and Anne Bogart.
MAY 7, TUESDAY
Reading: Cherryville by Dan Sullivan, 2 p.m. , David Thayer Theatre.
Production: Beakers by Jeannine Coulombe. 5:30 & 9 p.m.,
About the play, based on real events: The paper mill that built International
Falls suddenly has the power to destroy it. A planned expansion of the mill
and its continued existence hinge on whether the workers will accept an unfair
contract. The characters must decide what they are willing to do to ensure
their way of life and the value of a days work.
About the playwright: Coulombes The Vacant Lot won the
National AIDS Fund/CFDA-Vogue Initiative Award for Playwriting in the 2001
national competition of the American College Theatre Festival (ACTF), sponsored
by the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Her works have been produced at
the University of Minnesota-Duluth and Theatre Unbound in Minneapolis.
MAY 8, WEDNESDAY
Reading: Back and Forth on a Bullet Train by Peter Gil-Sheridan,
2 p.m. , David Thayer Theatre.
Undergraduate Readings: 5:30 p.m., Theatre B.
MAY 9, THURSDAY
Reading: The Knife Trick by Randy Noojin, 2 p.m. , David Thayer
Production: Yellow Fever by Joe Hiatt. 5:30 & 9 p.m. , E.C.
About the play: In 1793 a yellow fever epidemic devastated the young American
capital of Philadelphia wiping out 20 percent of its population in a few months.
In A Yellow Fever, several middle and lower class citizens are
forced to confront a devastating plague and their own ideas of freedom. In
a city abandoned by its government and wealthy citizens, they fight for their
lives, face their fears, and bury their dead.
About the playwright: Hiatt was writing and producing theater in Philadelphia
before coming to the UI. His past productions include an opera, The
Women Who Mourn; a musical, Nevada Sonata; and the plays
Atlanta Burns, Safe Play, Crosspital,
The Devil and Ben James, Missed America and Translated.
His work has been published in Penns Xconnect magazine and the Iowa
Journal of Cultural Studies.
MAY 10, FRIDAY
Reading: The Lyre by Laura McPherson, 1:30 p.m., David Thayer
Production: Bullet for Unaccompanied Heart by Robert Wray. 5:30
& 9 p.m., Theatre B.
About the play: A blues guitarist, a mysterious woman and a wraith-like
figure with an attitude engage in a psychological death match in order to
reclaim a future thats been long buried in a dark, dark past.
About the playwright: Bullet for an Unaccompanied Heart is Wrays
final production in the Iowa Playwrights Workshop. Other plays written and/or
produced at the UI include The Secret Rain, Pelicans
and Old Memphis Song. He says, What a great and wonderful
trip its been.
MAY 11, SATURDAY
Reading: Ladies Night, the rough cut by Cyndi Coyne, 2 p.m. ,
David Thayer Theatre.
Production: In Sarajevo by Andrew Barrett. 5:30 & 9 p.m.
, E.C. Mabie Theatre..
About the play: In Sarajevo is a rock musical based on events
that occurred from
1992-1993 in Sarajevo, the beautiful Bosnian city that hosted the 1984 Winter
Olympics. In 1992, just as the young students of Sarajevo were on the brink
of beginning their adult lives, the city was taken under siege by Serbian
National Forces. The musical chronicles the lives of seven friends
throughout their extraordinarily heroic journey to keep their city the way
their ancestors built it for them. In Sarajevo is the first musical
ever to be produced in the Iowa New Play Festival.
About the playwright: First-year MFA student Andrew Barrett was born and
raised in New York City, when he began his playwriting career in his parents
living room at the age of five with a work entitled, Pocahontas and
Distinguished guest respondents for the festival will be: Dominic Dromgoole,
Kelly Stuart, Morgan Jenness, Michael Johnson-Chase, Mead Hunter and Megan
Dromgoole is artistic director of the Oxford Stage Company, one of the leading
national touring companies funded by the Arts Council of England. From 1990-96,
Dromgoole was the artistic director of the Bush Theatre, where he produced
65 world or British premieres. In 1997 he became new plays director at the
Stuart, a faculty member at Columbia University, has written more than a
dozen plays including Demonology, which was produced at Playwrights
Horizons in New York, the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, and other theatres
across the U.S. and won the New American Play Award. In the fall
of 2000 she received a Whiting Foundation Award. Her play Mayhem
was a finalist for the 2001/02 Susan Smith Blackburn prize.
An Iowa New Play Festival regular, Jenness spent over a decade at the New
York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater, with both Joseph Papp and George
C. Wolfe, in various capacities ranging from literary manager to director
of play development to associate producer. She was also associate artistic
director at the New York Theater Workshop, and an associate director at the
Los Angeles Theater Center in charge of new projects. She has worked as a
dramaturg, workshop director, and/or artistic consultant at theatres and new
play programs across the country. She is now creative director at Helen Merrill
Ltd., an agency representing writers, directors, composers and designers.
Johnson-Chase is the international program director at The Lark Theatre Company
in New York City, where he also directs, dramaturges, and produces new play
Hunter was playwright-in-residence at the legendary Storefront Actors Theatre
in Portland, Ore., before moving to San Francisco to co-found Humble Cottage
Productions. In addition to writing his own scripts, he has translated works
by Carlo Gozzi and Carlo Goldoni. He serves on the advisory board of the Edge
of the World Theater Festival in Los Angeles, and as director of literary
programs for A.S.K. Theater Projects he is involved in the interdisciplinary
Common Ground Festival.
Monaghan is the literary director of the Alliance Theatre Company in Atlanta,
and the former playwrights services director at the Playwrights Center in
the Twin Cities. She was also the producer of FronteraFest, the largest new-play
festival in the Southwest.
Admission to the readings is free. Tickets for festival productions are $6
($4 for UI students and youth). Tickets will be available noon to 1:30 p.m.
May 6-10 at the UI Theatre Building Box Office, or one hour before each performance.
Any time that tickets are on sale, tickets to any remaining performance may
Some festival productions include material of an adult nature. Potential
patrons who are concerned about whether the productions are suitable for them
should contact the department of theatre arts -- (319) 335-2700 -- for additional
Many of the plays developed through the Iowa Playwrights Workshop and presented
in the festival have gone on to successful professional productions, have
been honored with theatrical awards or have been invited to theater festivals.
For example, Peter Ullians 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 Wallaces Iowa
Playwrights Festival scripts The War Boys and In the Heart
of America have been given major productions in London. Kate Aspengren
presented Dear Mrs. Martin in the festival, where it was seen
by a representative of the Samuel French publishing house, leading to the
scripts publication and availability to theaters throughout the country.
More recently, Levy Lee Simon won the American College Theatre
Festival Lorraine Hansberry Award for The Bow Wow Club, which
premiered in the 1998 Iowa Playwrights Festival and is in development for
a film production. Both Simon and recent graduate Kirsten Greenidge were invited
to the prestigious National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene ONeill
Last season, Greenidge and fellow grad-student Jeannine Coulombe were honored
in the 2001 national playwriting competition of the American College Theatre
Festival (ACTF), sponsored by the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Coulombes
The Vacant Lot won the National AIDS Fund/CFDA-Vogue Initiative
Award for Playwriting, while Feeding Beatrice by Greenidge was
named the alternate in the David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award and
was also the second place winner in the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award.
Over the years, the festival has produced scripts by numerous young playwrights
who have gone on to distinguished careers in theater -- including Rebecca
Gilman, who has become one of the most talked-about playwrights; Pulitzer
Prize and Tony Award finalist Lee Blessing; Emmy Award and Jefferson Award
winner Rick Cleveland; Darrah Cloud, whose O Pioneers was broadcast
by PBS and was toured last year by the Acting Company; Todd Ristau, the editor
of yawp.com whose work has been performed at the Edinburgh Festival and the
London West End; Judy GeBauer, whose plays have been widely produced; Charles
Smith, playwright-in-residence at the Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago and
a faculty member at Ohio University; Halloween 5 screenwriter
Shem Bitterman; and Obie Award winner David Hancock.
The department of theatre arts is a unit of the UI Division of Performing
Arts, in the College of Liberal Arts.
For UI arts information, visit www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa
on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <email@example.com>.