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University of Iowa News Release

Release: April 21, 2002

Iowa New Play Festival Showcases Fresh Scripts May 5-10 At UI

The Iowa New Play Festival, the most extensive festival of new student theater at an American campus, will present productions and readings of more than a dozen new scripts May 5-10 in the University of Iowa Theatre Building.

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 disciplines.

For theater audiences, the festival provides the excitement of participating in new theater in the making.

The festival's main productions -- a premiere each day of a new script from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop -- will be presented at 5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.:
-- "El Once" by Daniel Sullivan Monday, May 5 in E.C. Mabie Theatre;
-- "Papa's Party" by Sarah Hoeflich Tuesday, May 6 in Theatre B;
-- "Hummingbirds" by Jeannine Coulombe Wednesday, May 7 in the David Thayer Theatre;
-- "Queen Bees" by Peter Gil-Sheridan Friday, May 9 in E.C. Mabie Theatre; and
--"The Secret of Blue" by Cyndi Coyne Saturday, May 10 in the David Thayer Theatre

"El Once" concerns the 11 workers from Mexico and other Central American countries who, while migrating to the United States to work, died in a grain hopper railcar in Oklahoma in mid-June, 2002, and who were discovered in Denison, Iowa, four months later. Dan Sullivan is a second-year student in the Master of Fine Arts playwriting program here. His play "Libro de los Abrazon" was a UI Theatres Workshop production last fall.

In "Papa's Party" a German family gathers for their annual Christmas celebration, only to have issues of prejudice, power games, and the ambiguity of Western values exhume the ghosts of fascism. Sarah Hoeflich was born and raised in Germany and joined the UI Playwright's Workshop last summer on a Fulbright scholarship. She is a screenwriter for the German television show "Unter Uns," and her short film "Got to Go" won the Max-Ophuls Award 2000.

"Hummingbirds" portrays the sometimes joyous, sometimes violent relationship between two sisters, one of whom struggles to keep the other from crossing the line into insanity. Jeannine Coulombe will graduate from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop in May. Her play "Beakers" won the UI Maebaum Award in 2002 and "The Vacant Lot" won the National AIDS Fund CFDA-Vogue Initiative Award for Playwriting from the Kennedy Center in 2001.

"Queen Bees" is the story of the matriarchs of a working-class family who protect their own with the wisdom of wives' tales and plenty of mashed potatoes. Peter Gil-Sheriden is a second year Master of Fine Arts playwright who is also an actor and director. His 10-minute play "Out of the Kennel" was a finalist at the American College Theater Festival/Kennedy Festival last year.

"The Secret of Blue" explores the passion and problems of a New York Italian family and its ties to the underground secrets of three street prostitutes, raising questions about culture, control and heritage. Cyndi Coyne's first play, "Dry Land," was produced on theater row in New York, where her work has been produced in theaters including Circle Rep, the LAB, Circle in the Square and The West Bank. She is an actress as well as writer -- a member of Circle Rep and the Writers Room -- and she won the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for her screenplay, "Last Wish."

Admission to the main productions will be $6 ($4 for UI students and youth). Tickets will be available at the door, or at the Theatre Building box office noon to 1:30 p.m. May 5-9. Whenever tickets are on sale, tickets to all remaining productions may be purchased.

Responding to the scripts will be a corps of prominent guests from the world of professional theater, including playwright Len Berkman, Emmy Award-winning Iowa Playwrights Workshop alumnus Rick Cleveland, dramaturg Morgan Jenness and former literary manager Lisa DiFranza, who is artist-in-residence at Andover Newton Theological School.

In addition to the main productions, the Iowa New Play Festival will feature a series of free readings at 2 p.m. in the Cosmo Catalano Acting Studio:
-- "Still Love" by Cristina Pippa Monday, May 5;
-- "Ghost-glowing Swamp" by Sarah Hammond Tuesday, May 6;
-- "and/or" by Andrew Barrett Wednesday, May 7;
-- "Crossing the Line" by Lisa Day Thursday, May 8;
-- "The Complaint" by Randy Noojin at 5:30 p.m. May 8;
-- "Genies in the Mountain" by Anton Jones at 11 a.m. Friday, May 9; and
-- "Fit" by Laura McPherson on Saturday, May 10.

In addition, selections from Undergraduate Playwrights Workshop will be featured in a free reading at 3 p.m. Friday in Theatre B.

The Department of Theatre Arts is a unit of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,