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University of Iowa News Release

April 19, 2004

Iowa New Play Festival Premieres Five Student Scripts

The Iowa New Play Festival, the unique college theater event that annually premieres numerous scripts from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop in a single hectic week, will spotlight more than a dozen new plays in productions and readings, May 3-8, in the University of Iowa Theatre Building.

Production performances will be at 5:30 and 9 p.m. each day of the festival week, utilizing all the main performance spaces of the Theatre Building.

Several other undergraduate and graduate-student scripts will be presented in free 2 p.m. readings throughout the week. Responding to the scripts will be a cadre of guests from various disciplines in the professional theater world.

The main festival productions will be:
-- "The Complaint," by Randy Noogin on Monday, May 3, in Theatre B;
-- "Shot in the Light," by Peter Gil-Sheridan on Tuesday, May 4, in the David Thayer Theatre;
-- "FLESH," written and directed by Andrew Barrett on Wednesday, May 5, in E.C. Mabie Theatre;
-- "FIRE! in a Crowded Theatre," by Laura McPherson on Thursday, May 6 in the David Thayer Theatre;
-- "Tokens-n-Change," by Anton Jones on Friday, May 7 in Theatre B; and
-- "When Cows Fly," by Cristina Pippa on Saturday, May 8, in E.C. Mabie Theatre.

Tickets to the evening performances are $6 ($4 students, seniors and youth), with the exception of the Thursday performance, which will be $1. Tickets will be available noon to 1:30 p.m. May 3-8 at the Theatre Building box office, and one hour before each performance.

In "The Complaint," directed by faculty member Carol MacVey, a cop seeks vengeance after a complaint of "excess force" is filed.

The five characters in "Shot in the Light" are coping with trauma. As they retreat into their desperate imaginations in the struggle to survive, they are forced to confront the realities of complicity, isolation and betrayal.

"FLESH," set in Stamford, Conn., is an outrageous and dark comedy of sex, religion and trips to the mall.

In "FIRE! in a Crowded Theatre" a series of ghost stories inspired by recent tragic events show the audience's complex role in the highly theatrical post-9/11 world. This workshop production is directed by Eric Hetzler, former artistic executive director of the Central Minnesota Children's Theatre.

The hip-hop inspired "Tokens-n-Change" finds Change-4-A-Dolla and Dolla-4-Change, two homeless artists, lost in a world of race, class and gender stereotypes. Department of Theatre Arts faculty member Ralph Hall is the production's director.

"When Cows Fly" depicts artist Marc Chagall as he attempts to preserve individualism in the Free Arts Academy against pressures from the new communist regime and emerging trends in Russian culture.

" The Complaint," "FLESH" and "FIRE! In a Crowded Theatre" contain material of an adult nature. Potential audience members who are concerned about whether the productions are appropriate for them should contact the Department of Theatre Arts, 319-335-2700, for additional information.

Free readings will be at 2 p.m. each day of the festival in the Theatre Building's Cosmo Catalano Acting Studio:

Monday, May 3 -- "Midnight Mass" by Nancy Hoffman;
Tuesday, May 4 -- "Jeans n Tennies" by Dan Sullivan;
Wednesday, May 5 -- "Circus Tracks" by Sarah Hammond
Thursday, May 6 -- "Father Bob" by Christopher Leyva
Friday, May 7 -- "All Maine Wool and a Yard Wide" by Marnie Glazier; and
Saturday, May 8 -- Undergraduate work.

The Iowa New Play Festival is an ambitious enterprise that requires the collaboration of all areas of the Department of Theatre Arts -- playwrights, directors, designers, actors, dramaturgs and technical resources -- in the production and showcasing of new work. The educational value of the enterprise is shared by students in all of those disciplines.

"It's an extraordinary week -- there's really nothing else quite like it in the world of graduate playwriting programs," says faculty member Art Borreca, director of the Iowa Playwrights Workshop. "Playwrights get to rewrite their plays with the benefit of input from highly talented actors, directors, designers, dramaturgs and other artists, while they get to put an indelible stamp on the work and the shape it will take in the future."

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

Festival guests will include Robert Blacker, Artistic Director, Sundance Theatre Lab; Naomi Iizuka, playwright and author of the highly praised "36 Rooms"; Polly Carly, producing director of the Playwrights Center, Minneapolis; and Liz Engleman, former resident dramaturg of the McCarter Theatre, Princeton, N.J.

The Department of Theatre Arts is an academic 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.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,