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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 5, 2004

Photo: Playwright A.R. Gurney

Iowa Summer Rep Selects Playwright, Sets Auditions

Iowa Summer Rep, the professional repertory company of the University of Iowa department of theatre arts, has selected popular American writer A.R. Gurney as its 2004 playwright, and has set public auditions for Feb. 21-22.

Iowa Summer Rep will produce three of Gurney's most successful plays -- "The Dining Room" (1982), a tour-de-force satire of the Great American Family; "Sylvia" (1997), the hit comedy in which the title character is a talking dog, a role originated by Sarah Jessica Parker; and the warm-hearted World War II memory play "What I Did Last Summer" (1983) -- June 24 through July 24 in the UI Theatre Building.

An Iowa Summer Rep brochure will be produced in mid- to late-April, and tickets will become available at that time from the Hancher Auditorium box office.

General auditions will be held 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21 in Room 172 of the UI Theatre Building. Callbacks will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22. Auditions are open to the public; no association with the UI is required.

An audition sign-up sheet is posted on the callboard in the north hallway of the Theatre Building. Out-of-town auditioners may also call David McGraw (319-335-3906) to schedule an audition slot.

Each auditioner should prepare a two-minute contemporary monologue or a four-minute contemporary scene with a partner. Auditioners will also be asked to read sections from the shows, and actors are encouraged to read all three plays prior to auditions. Rehearsals will begin May 25.

A.R. "Pete" Gurney is one of the most prolific and widely produced playwrights in America. His sophisticated comedies, which focus primarily on the issues, foibles and realities of middle-class American life, have been produced internationally for more than three decades.

In the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, Gurney began writing shows to entertain his military colleagues. After the war he attended the Yale School of Drama, and he later he joined the faculty of MIT, where he taught until 1987.

"The Dining Room," an on-target send-up of his WASP upbringing, was his breakthrough success. In addition to "Sylvia" and "What I Did Last Summer," his award- winning plays include "Scenes from American Life," "The Perfect Party," "Another Antigone," "Later Life," "Human Events," "The Cocktail Hour," "Love Letters," "A Cheever Evening," "The Golden Age," "Sweet Sue" and "Overtime." He has also published two novels, and his plays have been collected in several volumes.

Among Gurney's many awards are a Drama Desk Award, a Rockefeller Award and two Lucille Lortel Awards. He was the honoree at the 2000 William Inge Theatre Festival, and he has twice been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in drama.

Iowa Summer Rep has carved out a unique niche among professional summer companies during the last two decades by making each season a festival of plays by a single contemporary playwright. Summer Rep is a U/RTA company employing Equity actors and stage managers, as well as students who earn points toward their Actors Equity card.

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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,

PHOTOS are available at