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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 3, 2005

'Circus Tracks' Is A Different View Of The Big Top

The University Theatres Gallery series will present "Circus Tracks" by Iowa Playwrights Workshop graduate student Sarah Hammond at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 17-19, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20, in Theatre B of the University of Iowa Theatre Building.

"Circus Tracks" is the story of a circus orphan stranded in suburbia who must journey through miles of freak-studded desert to find her way back to her mother at the saddest bigtop on the planet. In this desert, fish swim in the sand, men are women, children are tigers, mothers are cruel, God speaks in tattoos, life has a rewind button and talent is religion with a funny face.

Director Rachel Edwards Harvith comments, "'Circus Tracks' does not take place in a glitzy, happy-go-lucky P.T. Barnum extravaganza-style circus. It is a low-budget circus of grit, gasoline and smeared face paint. But perhaps real magic can only emerge from the dirt, from the acknowledgement that not all life is cotton candy and the truth can dwell in the pauses of broken music boxes.

"'Circus Tracks' is a story of a community's attempt to define itself. It poses the question: 'Where do I belong?' The play juxtaposes the natural and the supernatural, the 'normal' and the 'freakish' in a uniquely hilarious and heart-warming way. In Sarah Hammond's work, the bizarre infiltrates the mundane in a manner that is always fresh, always surprising, and always FUN."

Harvith, a first-year director in the Master of Fine Arts program, has worked as a director, actor, interim literary manager and dramaturg at the Long Wharf Theatre, the Syracuse Stage and the Hedgerow Theatre.

"Circus Tracks," Hammond's second Gallery production, was developed as a reading during last season's Iowa New Play Festival at the UI. She is in her final year of the playwriting Master of Fine Arts program. Her plays have been produced in South Carolina by the Trustus Theatre and the University of South Carolina, Aiken.

American Theatre magazine featured the Trustus production of her "Kudzu" in its July/August 2003 issue. The Actors Theatre of Louisville produced her short play "Cancer Walking Through These Woods" recently, and the play was published in Michael Dixon's "Ten-Minute Plays for 2 Actors: The Best of 2004."

Admission to the Gallery series production of "Circus Tracks" will be $6 ($4 for UI students, senior citizens and youth). Tickets will go on sale at the door one hour before curtain time.

University Theatres Gallery is a series of productions written by students, and/or staged by student directors

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.

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

PHOTOS are available

The photos are:

circusA: Chris Sobbing as the Cavelady, a washed-up talent.

circusB: Kelly Bartlett as Jill, the sad clown.

circusC: Steve Ptacek (Soundbite) and Kelsi Crivaro (Leelio) are circus children. She is dressing him up to find a new act.

circusD: Kelly Bartlett as Jill the sad clown and Tim Grady as Lester the trapeze artist.